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The Spokane Windstorm and Outage of November 17, 2015

by Hawke Robinson last modified Jul 26, 2016 05:15 PM
Well it was a record windstorm that swept through the Spokane area on November 17th, 2015. Doing far more damage to the electrical power lines of the area than any other time since being put in place (according to Avista and others). It is now 6 days since the storm, and still many thousands are without power. If you happen to have Internet access, comment and share your experiences here...

Everyone is welcome to share their experiences, I will start the ball rolling in the hopes that other will join in the conversation. :-)

November 17th, 4:59 pm - Power out. Comcast Internet and TV out. Fortunately I have backup huge roof antenna on rotating base, cellular internet backup hotspot (phone hack), and my generator working. Trying to order pizza delivery. Heh, not surprising. Dominos has all sites with "No Delivery available" due to the wind storm. Though Pizza Pipeline says just some delay. Will see if they call to cancel due to weather, but they accepted the order.

November 17th, 11:09 pm - Kudos to Pizzapipeline.com they came through! They were quite late, but that's okay, with most of the city out of power, I was amazed they made it up to this semi-rural location. Way to go Pizza Pipeline! :-) And we had our full 4 hour gaming session, with pizza. :-)

November 18th, 12:56 pm - Power still out. 37 degrees outside right now (the high for today at my house). Forecast of chance of snow tonight/tomorrow, and temperature possibly dropping into the 20s and very likely in 20s by Friday/Saturday. Electric heat was okay last night, but going to have to chop wood to prepare to use the Franklin Stove if power not on by tonight. Thank goodness for being prepared. Saw an Avista power person down at the power relay station near me a few minutes ago, hopefully a good sign. Doing okay thanks to generator, and gas water heater. Girlfriend's house fence done, heading over to try to fix.

November 19th, 8:22 am - Power still out, cable (TV & internet) still out. Comcast supposed to be here between 8 am to 10 am today (we'll see about that). Fortunately backups still working well (generator, cellular internet, large roof antenna for broadcast TV, Franklin stove, hot water). Also had a friend's family over last night to help them warm up, have some hot tea, and watch Dr Who. Youngest son is loving the school cancellations. :-)

November 19th, 9:14 am - Comcast tech called and says will be here in 30 minutes. Will see if they just say it is system wide until the power comes back, or if there was something that happened to my house. Comcast went down to my house hours before the power went out.

November 19th, 10:04 am - Not surprisingly, tech says no RF at the cable, known issue, that the central station providing cable to the neighborhoods likely to be down for days. As expected, nothing he could do. But now they can actually list that cable is down. Their site had kept saying "no known outages in your area". Now they can update the database/website. He says now they will escalate the issue. Heh heh.

November 22nd, 9:10 pm - Just posting updates, not complaining, though starting to wear down a bit. Since apparently it took 2 weeks to restore power during Ice Storm, have tried to be prepared for the possibility of 2+ weeks before power restored. "It's an adventure!" grin emoticon - Status Update Night 6 of ongoing outage. Really wishing had the RPG Trailer http://rpgtrailer.com so could shelter in there (donate today!). smile emoticon House generator still chugging along, though gasoline bill definitely adding up. Will need to look in the future at cost for natural gas generator and having it wired up to run the sensor and water pump for the house heat in the future. Firewood pile is starting to get a little ominously low. Hopefully enough wood to heat the house for at least 2-3 more days (hard to estimate, could be 7 more days worth if let temperate stay back around 50 in the house instead of trying to keep up around 59-60, after that not sure what will do. Hopefully Avista Utilities will come back around to the Forest Hills area by/before Tuesday, 186+ people without power (realize that is a drop in the bucket compared to what they have to do, and the terrain here is problematic (hills, forested, basalt). Fingers crossed they can get things up and running before firewood runs out. Frequently bemused being right in sight of major relay station and watching them drive up and down North Five Mile right in front of my house all day every day, and drive past. Looks like all of the Five Mile Prairie area fixed up today, and now all crews, according to the map, heading south back toward the city, zero crews indicated in northern area and no estimates on the map as to when will be looked at for assessment. Still, we are better off than most of our neighbors, so grateful for being prepared.

 

 

Hawke Robinson
Hawke Robinson says:
Nov 23, 2015 02:51 AM

I am considering the following upgrades to the house when all this is over, to try to improve things WHEN (not if) another long outage like this happens:
1. Have electrician and/or furnace folks install a means to power my heater system with the generator. My heat is gas-heated water boiler baseboard heat, but it requires electricity for the switch and water pump (my hot water heater is purely gas, no electric, so fortunately hot water not a problem). Some means to run an extension cord to plug in and power the heat. Then all this firewood, and concern over the pipes would be much less problem.
2. Considering Natural Gas Generator. Around $4,000 for around 13-16Kw, plus installation. Check on how many hours run time before have to change oil. many only 50-100 hours, need MUCH longer than that here. Also consider bi-fuel option in case even NG is knocked out, have propane tank backup option.
3. See what chances are of petitioning a bond to bury the power lines. When I lived in Utah, the entire Holladay area had buried lines, so never had these outages due to winds and tree-fall. It was a fairly affluent neighborhood. Wonder if everyone else would be willing to pay for such an improvement the way they did for sewers, considering how many outages we have in this area?

Hawke Robinson
Hawke Robinson says:
Nov 23, 2015 11:27 AM

I drove by about an hour ago, and saw the Avista crews busy on Hawthorne working on the Whitworth Campus lines (pretty bad mess).

Hawke Robinson
Hawke Robinson says:
Nov 23, 2015 05:50 PM

Hope on the horizon? Map status now shows for our area: Crew Assigned, Estimated Restoration: Nov 25, 11:30 pm. Updated at 2:35 pm today. Will keep fingers crossed that isn't a propaganda estimate. :-)

Hawke Robinson
Hawke Robinson says:
Nov 23, 2015 05:57 PM

Found on Avista Facebook page: https://www.avistautilities.com/safety/outages/Pages/plannedmap.aspx Will see if any more accurate.

Hawke Robinson
Hawke Robinson says:
Nov 23, 2015 06:03 PM

My back finally gave out today, hauling wood. Guess 7 days was the limit. :-) (actually, what is the emoticon for grimace of pain?) :-P

Hawke Robinson
Hawke Robinson says:
Nov 24, 2015 03:18 PM

Snowed over the night/today. About 2-3 inches. At least a little warmer, but cold front in the teens expected to be coming, and winds from the Northeast (unusual) up to 45 mph. Now a full week since the windstorm knocked out the power. Tuesday, November 24th, 2015. Avista claims that our area should be restored by tomorrow, Wednesday, November 25th, 11:30 pm. Fingers crossed it is that time (or sooner), and not later. They have admitted there will still be some customers that may not be up until the weekend or later. Hope that isn't us! Happy Thanks Giving Spokane!

Hawke Robinson
Hawke Robinson says:
Nov 24, 2015 04:18 PM

Yay! Power is back on along Lawrence Drive in the Forest Hills subdivision along North Five Mile. Went out and shook the crewmen's hands to thank them personally for their long shifts. As uncomfortable as we have been, just imagine how tired they are. I've maintained wifi towers on mountain tops in blizzards, and that pales in comparison to they work they have had to do from this storm. Kudos to you from Avista and all the other crew members from power companies of several states that came out to help! Be safe and hopefully you will get to have a Happy Thanksgiving!