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Bainbridge temps, snow wreak havoc on island
La Nina appears to have handed the region its first taste of winter weather chaos right before the holiday weekend. The cold temperatures and wetter than normal conditions of La Nina delivered wind gusts up to 60 MPH, coupled with two to three inches of snow, and a thorough freeze. Frigid temperatures have paralyzed much of the county sending emergency responders scrambling to keep up with the need for help.
“Kitsap County is far and away the hardest hit area in our service territory,” said Richard Thompson, spokesperson for Puget Sound Energy (PSE). “We have about 60,000 customers out of power because of the storm and 50,000 are in Kitsap County.”
The chilling wind left residents without power, many without heat, and the snow turned to ice stranding vehicles on side streets all over the island. Almost all island residents were left in the dark and many will likely have to get creative for Thanksgiving cooking. Power isn’t expected to be restored for all of Kitsap County until as late as mid or late Friday Nov. 26, due to additional power system repair problems.
PSE crews are working around the clock and will be aided by approximately 16 crews from outside areas. PSE usually pulls from British Columbia, Eastern Washington, Oregon and Idaho to respond to an outage of this magnitude.
Thompson said the damage to power lines is expansive and problems range from damage to high voltage transmission lines to the feeder and smaller service lines getting wiped out by trees.
On the island at least a half dozen trees blocked streets, even hitting a vehicle. No motor vehicle related injuries were reported, but there were minor injuries related to the ice. The only reported deaths were several chickens after a fire sparked in the chicken coop at one island residence.
Emergency response teams had to keep up with the frantic pace of storm related problems.
“In a six hour period we had 30 calls for service. Our daily average is seven calls in a 24 hour period, so we’re running on all cylinders,” said Fire Chief Carpenter. “Problems are continuing because its sunny and people think it’s a beautiful day, forgetting that everything is a sheet of ice.”
Temperatures are expected to stay below or hovering around freezing for several days, which raises concerns for pipes freezing and residents getting too cold stuck in their homes. Islanders are advised to check on neighbors who may need assistance during the cold days and nights.
Dennis D’Amico from the National Weather Service said the storm rolled through as forecasted, although the winds were colder and the snow came in heavy. D’Amico said this type of storm is typical of the colder than average temperatures and wet conditions of “La Nina,” which last occurred in 1995, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He said residents should prepare to see more of these cold, wet temperatures for the remainder of the winter season and to prepare accordingly.
The island has one warming station at the First District Station 21 at Madison and Highway 305 where people can get out of the cold for a few hours. Several roads were closed due to fallen trees including: Fletcher bay, Wyatt Way, Country Club Road, Bakersfield and the Lynwood Center area due to ice.
The Senior Center, City Hall and all schools were closed due to the inclement weather.
As with any winter storm all safety personnel urged residents to stay in doors, off the roads, for as long as possible until the ice thaws.