East wind causes major holiday power outage

Sawed-up segments were all that remained Jan. 2 of one large tree that fell across power lines along Sandridge Road over New Year's weekend, knocking out power to a large part of the Peninsula's north end.

SANDRIDGE ROAD — Over the New Year’s weekend, the Peninsula experienced its longest power outage in seven years, according to Pacific County Public Utility District #2.

PUD General Manager Doug Miller said that around 6 a.m. on Jan. 1 east winds knocked down two trees and severed power lines. The damage occurred just south of 227th and caused roughly 5,600 PUD customers to lose power for more than 20 hours.

“Our vegetation and trees are used to getting hit with high winds from the southwest,” Miller said, adding that 90 percent of storms come from the southwest and tend to gradually filter out weaker trees.

“But we always fear that strong wind changing directions and coming in from the east, which is exactly what happened,” he said.

The trees fell on a transmission and a distribution line. Miller estimated one of the trees was 100 feet from the line when it fell. About eight spans of wire leading up to the crash were also damaged.

Crews finished restoring the lines by 8 p.m. on Jan. 2. But restoring power all at once would have taken more current than the PUD system could have handled, Miller said. So crews gradually turned power back on in sections until 2 a.m.

Cost from the damage is still unknown.

Miller said county-wide there are an unknown number of trees that put power lines at risk. “There’s still a lot of private residences or undeveloped areas with a lot of big trees that are just 60 to 100 feet from the lines,” he said. “And there’s nothing you can do with them.”

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