In contrast to last week, I arrived back on the island today after a weekend in Seattle to some decent weather. Sure, it was raining earlier, but by nightfall things were clear and gorgeous here at the
house, with a sky devoid of low clouds perfect for displaying the glow of a waxing gibbous moon. The internet assures me that "waxing gibbous" pretty much means we’re near the full moon, but I didn’t want comments full of "it’s not the full moon yet"…
By the time I left Seattle (after just two days), it was like the snowstorm never happened down there. Dry streets, sunny weather on Sunday, no snow visible in town itself (though I didn’t go up on Queen Anne or Capitol Hills – UW and downtown were my destinations this time around). But once I hit the island, it was back to winter wonderland…slushy style. The lakes are partially frozen, the ponds are still fully covered, and there’s compact snow and ice in patches on side roads and in recalcitrant drifts in Friday Harbor.
But it’s still nice to be home.
OK. So I had no idea how much it was snowing on the west side of the island. I’ve seen figures of 10-15″ of snow. Madden, from Steps, said he had 14″ out by his place, with trees and branches overhanging the road, and an OPALCO power truck crunched by a fallen tree. The snow quickly turned into a sheet of ice all over the roads, and much of the island hunkered down to wait it out.
In terms of damage, I lost power one day, but was spared the 3 day outage of some folks up by Roche. My outage, however, did cause freezing in the pipes in the little cabana off the deck, since it was well out of reach of my wood stove. So naturally, on Wednesday night when things started to thaw a bit, the pipes in there exploded and started gushing water. Since I’d been planning to redo that room anyhow, an after-hour plumber’s visit turned “fixing” into “gutting the sink and shower just to find” the broken pipe. The destruction was accomplished in a fairly decisive, shock-and-awe sort of way (it’s amazing how fast a Sawz-all can remove a shower stall, wall boards, etc). But now I don’t have to worry about the plumbing in there and can have the contractor start on drywalling it out and finishing it off. And one of the wall heaters melted down and nearly caught fire on Sunday night, though I caught it immediately and the only damage was a couple of scorch marks on the wood floor. I ended up installing a replacement myself on Wednesday, since the electrician only had 2WD on the van, and couldn’t make it down the road.
Things finally started to melt yesterday, and the roads were reasonably clear today (but still icy each night as things refreeze).
The net result this week is that I’ve stepped up my half-hearted earlier attempts to add a generator to the house. I’m figuring out the loads I need to support early next week and getting something on order. OPALCO are nice folks, so I’m going to charitably assume that it’s simply a tough job keeping power infrastructure going in the islands. Regardless of why, this was the third major outage in November alone, the first two not really weather-related but instead county-wide outages probably originating on the mainland. So some generator capacity will help provide some redundancy for the overall system, keep me working and warm, and keep my blood pressure down.