Northwest NEWS

November 30, 1998

Front Page

Wind, rain torment Northshore


The reflection of the Pickering barn between Duvall and Carnation provides a shimmering backdrop for a llama in a flooded pasture.


Jack Hiller, caretaker at Crystal Lake, raked limbs and needles from the road.
Staff photos by Andrew Walgamott.

by Andrew Walgamott, staff reporter

   STILLWATER--The tiny community of Stillwater was anything but peaceful Thanksgiving morning.

   "I woke up with boulders hitting the bedroom," said Bill Todd, who lives at the corner of the Duvall-Carnation Road and Stillwater Hill Road in the Snoqualmie Valley. A normally docile creek there leapt its banks at about 3 a.m. bringing tons of sand, gravel, cobbles, and large logs down a steep canyon and smack into the side of the house Todd rents.

   It was the tail end of four days of windy, wet weather that caused power outages, mudslides, slow commutes, and pasture floods, and closed some low-lying roads across the Northshore, the Lower Snoqualmie Valley, and the rest of Puget Sound last week.

   While the sun occasionally peaked from behind clouds in Stillwater on Thanksgiving Day, water continued to rush down from Lake Marcel, a man-made lake about three-quarters of a mile upstream from Todd's home.

   "It's just crazy. You can sit and watch [the water level] go up and down now," said Todd. A dam controls the water level of the lake.

   Earlier in the day, the unnamed creek had washed across the state highway, flowed around the Stillwater Store, and crept into a hair salon next door.

   "I didn't expect to spend Thanksgiving Day doing this," said a broom-wielding Adrian Hannah, as he and Corey Sublett mopped out Hannah's wife's shop.

   A state Department of Transportation crew was on standby with a backhoe to keep the creek from topping a culvert and going back over the road. One state worker said he had rescued a large salmon off the highway and released it back into the raging creek. But at least two of the big fish didn't survive the washout; a friend of Todd's pulled one from the muck beside the home and another was found near a blackberry thicket in a field across the road.

   A semi-truck that went through the water when it was over the road reportedly sent up a huge plume of spray, splattering mud against the side of Todd's grey house, but broke down a mile or so down the road with a severed fuel line.

   Todd said it was the second time in the past three or four years that a wall of water has come down from Lake Marcel, which is ringed by homes. Judging by a ring of debris on a measuring stick at the dam, the lake had dropped about four inches from a high-water mark at about 12:30 p.m. Thursday.

Week starts windy

   Last week began with Western Washington's usual pre-Thanksgiving Day blow. It left the air smelling of fir needles, roads looking like they'd been re-striped, and smoke curling from chimneys.

   Striking late Monday night and into Tuesday morning, power was knocked out in parts of greater Woodinville, though the electricity was back on in most of the downtown area by morning.

   In the hills surrounding town, wispy smoke whipped from some chimneys as homeowners tried to stay warm. Reportedly, 235,000 customers in the Puget Sound basin were without power, including part of SeaTac Airport, during the storm.

   The National Weather Service said there were sustained winds of 40 mph.

   "Generally in the Puget Sound-Hood Canal area, wind gusts ranged from right about 40 mph to 69 mph," said Kirsten Willman, a National Weather Service meteorologist. She said that while it wasn't usual to get winds so high every year, the storm's intensity wasn't all that surprising.

   The winds became noticeable around 9 p.m. Monday night in downtown Woodinville after lights started flickering and a series of strange noises were heard outside City Council Chambers. And after a brief power outage triggered an annoying alarm nearby, the council gave up and went home for the night, having basically named a new city manager, set property taxes for 1999, and discussed the height of grass in city parks.

   Later, Woodinville's Police Chief, Ken Wardstrom, said he was an hour late getting home from the meeting because of a tree down across Woodinville-Duvall Road near 212th Ave. NE. King County officials also reported trees across numerous roads in the area.

   Dangling wires and a tree across the road closed 240th St. SE, which splits Wellington Hills Golf Course in half. But the fresh breezes Tuesday morning couldn't keep a few golfers away from the course.

   South Snohomish County, usually first to lose power and last to get it back, was lit up while their neighbors across the county-line suffered in darkness, for once.

   Among those left without lights in King County were three Woodinville Fire & Life Safety District stations, though they operated on backup power, according to fire officials.

   Some schools, including Cedarcrest High School in Duvall, were either closed or late, due to the storm. Told that power would likely be out all day at Cedarcrest, a Riverview official felt it wouldn't be safe to send students to school without heat or light.

   While Northshore School District officials reported power outages and telephone problems, school remained in session Tuesday. District residents can call (425) 489-6001 to get updates on school closures.

   Everywhere, back roads appeared to have been re-striped overnight. Dead fir needles formed orange stripes down streets with the help of passing vehicles.

   Jack Hiller, caretaker at Crystal Lake near Maltby, raked limbs and needles from the road to the private lake. He said the storm didn't compare to one two years ago which left branches across the road.

   Still, it left traffic lights along Woodinville-Duvall Road out. Most motorists remembered to treat such intersections as four-way stops.

   The state Department of Transportation also closed the North Cascades Highway (State Route 20), and Chinook and Cayuse passes for the season following the storm.

   Oddly, the wind blew down a portable chain link fence at Woodinville's Wilmot Gateway Park.

   Still, the blustery conditions weren't enough to keep at least two alleged practitioners of the world's oldest profession, or six of their suspected customers, indoors for the night. The King County Sheriff's Office arrested the eight people along a street near Des Moines in a prostitution crackdown during the height of the storm.

   "It was windy, and rainy. But based on prior experience, the weather isn't really a factor," noted Sheriff's spokesman John Urquhart, who is a former vice detective. He said that while rainy weather means fewer hookers on the street, the customers are usually in cars. In this crackdown, police say the johns approached undercover officers posing as prostitutes, and the two women had wandered into the area.

   Then Wednesday, the rains came in earnest, sending the Snoqualmie River bank up its banks for the third time in two weeks. In Woodinville, city employee Cliff Olson went through a couple pairs of pants unclogging storm drains while pranksters speeding through the small lakes tried to splash him.

   By Friday, duck hunters needed boats to access lower Cherry Valley near Duvall because the triangular-shaped state-owned bottomlands had been flooded out.

   La Nina enhanced or not, it was typical November weather.