Power outages across the entire Seattle City Light coverage area - musing on the bad old days

Wednesday, January 13, 2021


The number of outages has increased to over 66,000. The weather is keeping our crews very busy. Thank you all for your patience. -- Seattle City Light

Dear Readers - if you are lucky you will sleep through all of this and the power will be back on when you wake. If your alarm doesn't go off show this map to your boss!

The power lines in Shoreline and LFP are like a tree. Power comes from the south up the main trunk and then follows branches which get smaller and smaller until they end near the county line.

Almost all addresses have redundancy. That is, they are served by two power sources from different directions. When one goes out the other one kicks in. That's why you will get - under more normal circumstances - those very brief outages of less than a minute before the power comes back on.

When your lights flicker, that normally means that someone south of you just lost power.

Back in the days when City Light had only two vegetation trucks for its entire service area, every wind storm brought down branches on the lines and power outages were frequent and prolonged.

That's when I found out that my street had no redundancy and that there were about ten households on the very tip of my branch. Those were also the days when City Light couldn't tell with precision where the outages were.

There were not a lot of situations like this in Shoreline but there were a lot in Lake Forest Park. One January after power was restored to the branch ends after 4 days, the then mayor of Lake Forest Park, Dave Hutchinson, brought the newish head of City Light, Jose Carrasco, to a public meeting in Lake Forest Park, to explain what happened.

Most of my neighborhood attended.

Carrasco said that it was all about vegetation management. He expanded the fleet of trucks to 16 and started an aggressive program of trimming branches from power lines which continues today.

As a certified tree-hugger in fairly good standing, I cringe at the results to the trees. After they "trimmed" my birch trees they were so ugly that I took up their offer to cut them down and give me new little trees guaranteed not to grow into the lines.

However, whenever I look at one of the trees they have trimmed, I remember huddling in a blanket, freezing for five days with no heat, refrigeration, or ability to even have a hot cup of tea.

--Diane Hettrick


Anonymous,  January 13, 2021 at 5:00 PM  

Seattle City Light has done a great job pruning tree branches away from power lines.

We're in Sheridan Heights, and we have a lot fewer outages than we used to.....I think our last was in 2018.

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