Recently in Local Events Category

Well that was fast - 102 days

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The road to Artist Point closed today - snow. From the DOT:

Road to Artist Point now closed to vehicle traffic
Sightseers who want to take in fall views from Artist Point this year, will need to go on foot. The scenic road to Artist Point on State Route 542 has closed to vehicle traffic for the rest of the year.

The gate on SR 542 to Artist Point closed for the season on Monday, Oct. 9, 2017.

October snow and ice concerns in the North Cascades forced Washington State Department of Transportation maintenance crews to close the gate at the Bagley Lakes Trailhead. The annual closure of the final 2.7 miles of highway is for the safety of travelers and crews.

Artist Point season, by the numbers
This year's season of 102 days may have seemed quick but it wasn't the shortest season on record.

    • In 2008, the road was open for 81 days.
    • In 2011, there was too much snow to, cost-effectively, open the highway past the Heather Meadows Visitors Center.
    • In 2016, a light winter allowed a May 14 opening. The road remained open for 172 days.
    • In 2017, for the first time, WSDOT crews worked seven days a week to open on Thursday, June 29.

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest says nearly 12,000 people stopped by their Heather Meadows visitor center in 2017. That does not include travelers who went directly to Artist Point or visited during off-peak hours.

I remember 2011 very well - business was off over 12% that summer - Artist Point draws a lot of traffic through our little hamlet and most of those people will stop and shop given the opportunity.

A fun day

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Did a bunch of work at the store and then ran into town to get some needed parts. Checked in at a local camera store - do this every couple weeks as there are a few used items I am looking for to round out my setup. Left there empty-handed and proceeded to head back to my favorite produce stand. Traffic was a bit backed up on the main road so took a side-street and low and behold, there was a sign for Kramer Knives. I knew that Bob lived and worked in Olympia so what was the deal?

Stopped in and it was Bob - his wife had to work in Olympia for a number of years but they always loved Bellingham and are now living up here full time. I took a couple of seminars from him during the blacksmithing meets at Mt. Hood a few years ago. Wonderful person and great teacher.

Losing a bit of history

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Tootsie has passed away - from The Seattle Times:

Tootsie Clark, known for handing out cinnamon rolls at reopening of North Cascades Highway, dies at 95
Ethel Madrene Clark, better known as “Tootsie” and famous for her cinnamon rolls and generosity, has died at age 95.

“She passed on Sunday at home, where she wanted to be,” her son, Donald Clark, said Tuesday.

With enthusiasm and a baking pan, Mrs. Clark made the annual reopening of North Cascades Highway each spring into a beloved and festive event.

Since the 1970s, she made it her mission to be first to cross the mountain pass on Highway 20, which closes each winter because of heavy snowfall and avalanche danger.

It became a tradition that she would carry out even in her last year of life.

Never participated in these festivities but I have eaten at the family restaurant many many times (and handed out breadcrumbs to the bunnies)

Seattle meteorologist Cliff Mass analyzes the report from the National Weather Service and comes up with some wonderful news:

La Nina and This Winter's Weather
I am always nervous about predicting the character of the upcoming winter's weather for a number of reasons. Seasonal forecasting skill is not good, with our long-range numerical models having very little skill past three weeks. Furthermore, our main seasonal forecasting tool with any skill, the relationship between El Nino/La Nina and local weather, only explains some of the interannual (between years) variation. In addition, the state of the tropical Pacific (which determines whether we are in El Nino, La Nina or La Nada) often changes during the spring/summer.

Earlier in the year it appeared that we would have a neutral (or La Nada) winter, but recently the waters of the tropical Pacific have cooled and the National Weather Service has released a La Nina Watch (see below).

And the upshot:

 OK, what does all this imply for the Northwest winter?  Generally cooler and wetter than normal.  More snow than average in the mountains.

Music to my ears - although summer is the biggest season for the store with all the campers and hikers staying in the area for days at a time, the winter ski season is not too shabby. A lot of people just head up the mountain, hit the slopes and then hi-tail it back home afterwards but a lot of them hang out for a day or two in the area and there is a large influx of people who move here for the entire winter - the skiing is that good. Nice to have a good snowfall for them to enjoy - last year was wonderful and we had record sales to show for it.

Kudos to our local Fire Department

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From Firehouse:

WA Firefighters Perform Difficult Rope Rescue at Remote Waterfall
An injured hiker was rescued late Wednesday in a difficult rope rescue operation on a cliff face at remote Racehorse Falls, fire officials said.

"This was straight down, vertical," about 40 to 50 feet, said Chief Jerry DeBruin of Whatcom County Fire District 14.

DeBruin said the man, who was 20 to 30 years old, fell about halfway down and landed on a ledge, injuring his shoulder and possibly his chest.

Details about the victim's injuries were withheld because of medical privacy laws, but DeBruin said the man wasn't critically hurt. He was taken by ambulance to St. Joseph hospital about 1:30 a.m. Thursday.

Racehorse Falls is a 139-foot fan-type waterfall in a steep, narrow gorge carved by Racehorse Creek, according to the website Aaron's Waterfall World. The falls plunge in a series of steps to a deep pool.

The call to 911 was placed at 9:30PM so it was pitch dark for the rescue. The people out here are professionals - very happy to know that they are here for us. T and I were at a meeting in the District 14 firehall a few days ago.

And off to YouTube

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Done surfing for the night - heading over to YouTube. Working on a couple of projects at the store over the next few days. Picked up some stuff for that in town today. Now that school is in session, we do not get the volume of vacationers cruising through and this remains our "slow" season until the ski area opens up. We know this and budget for it - this is the time to do remodeling and other projects.

There is the possibility of some light rain showers around Monday or Tuesday - this will be a relief for everyone!

This has been a long and hard slog - I know a bunch of older people up here who are on suplemental oxygen and they are not doing that well.

Here is the PM2.5 (particulates of 2.5 microns in diameter) monitor in Bellingham - you can see the sudden jump between August 01 and August 02.:


Cliff Mass does his usual wonderful analysis: Improved Air Quality at Low Levels over Western Washington as Smoke Pours in Overhead: It Won't Last Long

A fun party

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A local friend is moving away to Florida so some neighbors hosted a going-away party. They did a bunch of pulled pork, I brought some BBQ sauces and coleslaw.

I knew that Barb had lived in Florida previously but I did not know the entire story. Barb lost her husband in a motorcycle accident four years ago and she has been really depressed. Frank was a close friend and an awesome man. It turns out that Barb recently connected with a guy (Bob) on Facebook - someone she used to live with 30 years ago. Bob came out for a visit, Barb visited him in Florida and now, he is coming back out and they are going to drive back to Florida and live together. I have not seen Barb this happy in the last couple of years.

About 30 neighbors came to wish her well.

And now I have a friend in Florida with a four bedroom house on the Gulf Coast!

Air quality

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Just wonderful - the sunlight has been alternating between dirty gray and livid salmon yellow. Back to the salmon yellow for now - the Washington State Department of Ecology has this to say:

Smoke chokes Washington - air quality worst in the nation
Air monitors around Washington state are lighting up the maps like a Christmas tree - and red lights aren't good.

Almost every community in the state has been hit hard by smoke blowing in from British Columbia wildfires. You can see it, you can almost reach out and touch it, and many of us are feeling it.

If you look at air quality across the U.S., Washington has had the worst readings since the wildfire smoke hit the state earlier this week.

Here is a link to an interactive fire and smoke map (open the pull-out menu with the little blue plus sign at the top right of the map). and here is a screen-cap from a few moments ago - red and yellow dots indicate unsafe conditions for vulnerable people:


Here are ten photos from today's show:

They feature a different manufacturer each year - this year was John Deere


The clubhouse for the Tractor Association is a replica of an old John Deere dealership complete with many of the old tools


A meadow full of Allis Chalmers and Massey Ferguson tractors


Not only were tractors used for work in the field, they were also sources of power for other machinery - here is one driving a sawmill.



There were also a lot of antique engines running on gasoline, diesel, kerosine, propane - if it burns, you can build an engine to run on it.


Here is a very big steam tractor - rated at 35 horsepower in the true sense of the word. It would equal 30-35 horses in tandem harness. I was writing yesterday about how the torque is in the boiler - here is a perfect example. You have a tiny engine running a huge machine - the total volume of the cylinder (red cylinder to the left with a white crank-rod at an angle) is about that of a large watermelon yet it can provide the same pulling power as 35 horses.


Only three blacksmiths there today - usually a lot more and I usually know a few of them. Introduced myself and we talked for a while.


Here is a washing machine designed to be driven by a small motor - you would have a little motor (two horsepower or so) that could run a lot of different things at the farm. A generator for evening reading or listening to the radio, a pump for irrigation or potable water, a washing machine. High tech living in those days.


And last but not least - here is the precursor to to today's chainsaw. This replaced the two-man "misery whip" or bucking saw.


All in all, a fun day (except for Thunderbunny's air conditioner failing). Working at home tomorrow and Friday. Pot-luck for a friend who is moving away on Saturday.

Stage 2 burn ban for Whatcom County

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Our County Fire Marshal’s Office has declared a Stage 2 burn ban effective tomorrow morning - link to PDF document:


Click to embiggen

Pssst - wanna buy a bridge?

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Have I got such a deal for you! From the WA State Department of Transportation:

For Sale: SR 167 Puyallup River/Meridian Street Bridge
For more than eight decades, the Meridian Street Bridge over the Puyallup River served as a portal for cities along the Puget Sound to the semi-rural, agricultural community of Puyallup, Washington. Now, this historic bridge is up for donation. Originally built in 1925, the bridge was decommissioned in 2015 after a new bridge was built and opened to the traveling public. It has been removed from its long-time location spanning the Puyallup River and is now sitting in storage on nearby WSDOT property.

Prior to removal from its original location, the Puyallup River/Meridian Street Bridge was the longest (371 foot) riveted steel Warren through-truss span built prior to 1940 remaining on the Washington state highway system. It is very likely unique, although similar to the “Turner Truss” patented in the 1920s.

Unlike the standard Warren truss, this bridge has parabolic top chords (allowing for a longer span length), alternating diagonal truss members, longitudinal braces between diagonals in alternating panels, and vertical struts adjacent to the portals. Its subdivided panels and the addition of longitudinal members at mid-panel heights in five truss panels achieved both strength and economy of steel. In 1991 the portal sway braces and interior panel sway bracing were modified to increase vertical clearance from 14 feet 7 inches to 18 feet 7 inches to accommodate oversized traffic.

Maury M. Caldwell, a Virginia native, designed the Puyallup River/Meridian Street Bridge for Pierce County. In addition to that bridge, Caldwell designed other significant bridges in Washington, including the 1,410 foot Pasco-Kennewick Bridge (1922). Caldwell practiced engineering in Seattle and Tacoma from 1905 until shortly before his death in 1942.

If you are looking for a unique way to preserve Washington’s history, relocating and restoring this historic bridge is for you! 

They are actually donating it if you can prove that you will:

    • Maintain the bridge and the features that give it its historic significance and continued eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places; and
    • Assume all future legal and financial responsibility for the bridge, including providing an agreement to hold WSDOT harmless in any liability action.

It would actually be really cool if I had a lake - put the bridge across it and build a restaurant or brewpub on the roadway.

Good news on the river

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There is a major recreational river in these parts - the Nooksack River - and it is a very popular inner-tubing. From The Bellingham Herald

Three rescued after falling into Nooksack River
Three recreational inner-tubers – including a 10-year-old boy – who fell into the Nooksack River were saved in a multi-agency rescue operation Monday night west of Everson.

All three people are safe, after they were plucked from the river by a Navy helicopter crew and treated by firefighters for mild hypothermia at ambulances parked in a field near north of Nolte and Van Dyk roads. Firefighters found them clinging to tree branches in the fast-moving river, which is fed by summer glacial melt.

“We were able to work life jackets out to them using throw bags,” said Chief Mel Blankers of Whatcom County Fire District 1, a mostly volunteer department serving Everson and Nooksack.

“Our boats were still a ways out, and the Navy said they could be there in under a half-hour,” Blankers said. “I’ve really got to tip my hat to those guys. It was impressive.”

But the Navy came to the rescue in a holy crap that was fast way:

A rescue crew at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station went airborne at 7:45 p.m. and plucked the first victim out of the water at 8:05 p.m., said said Michael Welding, spokesman at NAS Whidbey. He said an “after-action report” documents the rescue, but no crew members were available to be interviewed Tuesday morning.

The air distance between Oak Harbor and here is a bit over 50 air miles (67 by road). To have gotten airborne, flown here, located the victims and to have one of them out of the water in 20 minutes is astounding. That is some fast flying and excellent teamwork!

Yesterday's memorial service

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There is a nice writeup about the memorial service at The Bellingham Herald:

Lynden says goodbye to Fire Chief Spinner
The funeral for Lynden Fire Chief Robert Spinner was held in Saturday, a little more than a week after his death.

Spinner, 50, suffered an apparent heart attack jogging while on duty and died on July 14, becoming the 56th U.S. firefighter to die in the line of duty this year. He became the interim fire chief in April after joining the department in 2010 as assistant chief.

He was a 25-year veteran of the fire service. It is the first line of duty death in the Lynden Fire Department’s 107-year history, and the second on-duty firefighter death in Whatcom County – the other line of duty firefighter death was in March 1950, when Whatcom County Fire District 7’s Chief Clyde Eaton suffered fatal burns as a barrel of fuel exploded at a fire.

Hundreds of firefighters and police officers from across the state along with border patrol authorities attended the memorial in the Expo Building of the Northwest Washington Fairgrounds, 1775 Front St. in Lynden.

Spinner was given a memorial reserved for firefighters who die in the line of duty. A procession led by members of the Bellingham Firefighters Pipes and Drums escorted Spinner’s family to the service.

Speakers included Spinner’s son Austin, former Lynden Fire Chief Gary Baar and Kurt Langstraat, pastor at North County Christ the King in Lynden.

A recorded song sung by Spinner’s daughter Emma brought even the most stoic firefighters to tears. Spinner is survived by his wife Tammy, son Austin, daughter Emma, brother Russell and his mother Shirley.

Yikes - local forest fire

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On the radio - a couple acres are burning in back of the post office. District 14 is there fighting it.

Yummy - hagfish

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Glad I do not work for the Depoe Bay Fire Department - this was their call earlier today:

Highway 101 at milepost 131 between Otter Rock and Depoe Bay got slimed! A flatbed truck with tanks full of live hagfish rolled, spewing water and hagfish all over the highway and beyond. No injuries, fortunately!

NOTE: Post corrected at 4:22pm when we learned that what we thought were eels were hagfish. Learn more about them from the Oregon Coast Aquarium.


Now that just plain gives me the shivers...

BBQ sauces done

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Got four BBQ sauces prepped for tomorrows event. I developed these when I was running the bakery in 2010 and 2011 - had a lot of fun and fed a lot of people.

These are called Earth, Water, Fire, and Air

  • Earth - traditional tomato and brown sugar.
  • Water - Eastern Seaboard cider vinegar sauce.
  • Fire - traditional but with molasses, a hint of vinegar and some smoked chipotle peppers and some cayenne.
  • Air - Appalachian mustard sauce. A lot of Germans moved into Appalachia and they love their mustard.

Came out pretty tasty and will be even better tomorrow after they sit in the fridge overnight.

Now that was a lot of fun!

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Got there around 9:45 or so and the fireworks ran for about an hour with some wonderful displays. I do not know what the contributions were this year but they certainly seemed to have a bigger budget. Very family friendly with lots of kids running around - one little girl (about 3 or 4yo.) had fairy wings and lighted shoes - cute as a bug.

We arrived home dusted with fine ash and pieces of paper mache and smelling of gunpowder.

Surf some YouTube and head to bed.

The squeeky wheel gets the grease

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Evergreen State College is a publicly funded Washington State school and gets about 50% of its money from WA State taxpayers. There was a big kerfuffle recently about so-called "free speech" with the Marxist liberals there wanting to shout down anyone who disagreed with their narrative. No open discussion, no trade of ideas, no dialog, just a straight shut down of any speech they deemed to be offensive to their virginal ears.

One of our State Representatives is sponsoring a wonderful bill - from The Fourth Corner:

Solving the Evergreen College “Intolerance” Problem
Fourth Corner: I’m here today to get your thoughts on the free speech issue at Evergreen State College.

Rep. VanWerven: What’s happening at Evergreen is just a microcosm of what’s happening on all college campuses. We’ve had this at WWU: students thinking they can limit free speech of people they might disagree with…So there’s just a total lack of respect for other people’s opinions, for other peoples ideologies and other people’s political expression.

Fourth Corner: How, in fact, are you involved in legislation… What are the major pieces in the legislation and who are the sponsors?

Rep. VanWerven: First of all Whats happening at Evergreen is just way beyond the pale so we think its time for them to become a private college. Currently ½ their budget comes from the taxpayers of Washington. It is time for them to raise all their own money then they can be as Marxist as they want to be. We shouldn’t charge the taxpayers for their(Evergreen College’s) intolerance; for their lack of diversity; for them brainwashing our kids.

Spot on - places like Evergreen do not do education, they do indoctrination. There is a big difference.

A bit more:

Rep VanWerrven: My bill still being drafted would add political expression to their diversity statements. Colleges have diversity statements. We believe that people on college campuses should respect political expression just like they would respect gender expression. The other part is that they allow speakers on college campuses of all ideologies at the same price.

The Fourth Corner: So, in fact, you want legislation not to limit but to enhance the diversity of political views on college campuses in the State of Washington. Right?

Rep VanWerven:And that political expression of all sectors must be respected and welcomed.

Hoist by their own petard. Make a lot of noise and get noticed off-campus, your issues will be dealt with and it might not be to your liking. If you want to act out, you need to do it on Mommy and Daddy's nickle and not the State Taxpayers'.

Still a butt-load of snow up there but the highway and parking lot is open - just in time for Canada Day (happy 150th Birthday, eh?) and then the Glorious Fourth.

Here is a photo from a couple days ago:


From My Everett News:

Stuck Horn On Tug Keeps Everett Residents Awake started received messages early this morning about super loud horn or siren that was keeping folks awake on the hottest night of the year.
The sound was thought to be coming somewhere from the waterfront.

We checked with the Port of Everett this morning and they issued the following apology…

We apologize for the prolonged horn noise at the Port last night. One of our customers has been doing some finishing work on a new ocean-going tug boat, and the horn malfunctioned. Our customer has assured us they have remedied the issue.

Please accept our sincere apologies on the noise, the time it took to figure out how to turn off the horn and the fact that it happened on the hottest day of the year so far.

Les Reardanz
CEO Port of Everett

So there is your answer. Glad we could help. Were gonna go take a nap now.

Back home again - good meeting

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The guy running it was a very good manager and it was a well-run meeting. He is forming a county-wide preppers group and is working closely with the county CERT program. CERT comes into play after the disaster happens, prepping before so the two are the Yin and Yang of survival. Best definition of disaster I ever heard was: "A disaster is an event that outstrips your ability to cope." Very well said.

We already have a prepping group out here but the additional resources will be welcome.

Nobody had any 7" grinders - this is an item more suited to a welding shop so I will check some of the online welding supply venues to see what they carry.

Picked up a new design of gas can - SureCan - very clever design which eliminates getting gasoline everywhere when filling a string trimmer or lawnmower. Beats having to tilt 20 pounds of gasoline to pour it. Here is a video:

A clever design that is actually very easy to use. Something you do not always get with a groundbreaking technology. Also picked up a new tool from Klein - they make very good electrical tools - this one is a 6-in-1 nut driver. Also ran a couple of errands - came home, checked in at the store for a bit and then headed out to Graham's for a burger.

Long day tomorrow so setting the alarm clock to 0-dark-thirty...

Off to Hardware Sales - coffee first

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Getting my coffee and then driving in to Hardware Sales for their Father's Day big sale. They have representatives from a bunch of the various manufacturers in attendance so it is fun to see what new tools are coming out. Hand power tools are starting to transition over to brushless motors - much better power regulation and longer battery life. Been looking for a larger angle-grinder - been using a bunch of 4.5" units and want to bump up to a 7" for heavy stock removal.

Hardware Sales is a Bellingham treasure - I love the place. Great people and the place is crammed with everything you can imagine.

Back in a couple of hours. Lulu is not coming out today - she has the flu.

Some interesting local news

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From The Seattle Times:

Amazon to buy Whole Foods for $13.7 billion in bid to become major grocer said it would buy Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition ever and a huge move into the grocery space it’s been trying to crack for a decade.

The deal, expected to close in the second half of this year, gives the e-commerce giant — which has been experimenting with various physical store concepts to make itself a name as a food purveyor — an instant expanse of 460 high-end brick-and-mortar stores across the U.S., in Canada and in the U.K.

Whole Foods, which made its name retailing organic and fresh products, had been struggling recently amid stepped-up competition from Costco Wholesale, Trader Joe’s and other grocers.

But in the hands of Amazon it would be a potent weapon against archrival Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, which dominates the grocery world and has been stepping up its e-commerce game. It’s also probably the largest untapped opportunity in e-commerce, says Cooper Smith, who closely tracks Amazon at L2, a research firm.

Talk about a win/win scenario - great for Amazon and it takes the pressure off Whole Foods. I do shop occasionally at the Bellingham Whole Foods - they have a few items I really like but it is not my go-to for regular grocery shopping.

End of an era

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He is planning to reopen in a new location but one of Seattle's iconic restaurants is closing down. From The Seattle Times:

Landmark F.X. McRory’s closing but owner Mick McHugh hopes to relocate
There isn’t nearly enough space here for the memories. The stories and good times overfloweth.

Asking a local about F.X. McRory’s is the easiest interview out there. You just smile and let the tape recorder run.

But on Sunday, June 11, 2017, Seattle’s most revered sports bar will close after nearly 40 years. The building owners want to retrofit the basement, forcing McRory’s owner Mick McHugh to relocate his beloved establishment.

Don’t worry, though. This isn’t a time for sorrow — it’s a time for celebration.

“This is just momentary,” McHugh said by phone — and you don’t need FaceTime to know he’s smiling. “I still got a little juice left.”

It might be fun to drive down on June 27th - James G. Murphy is auctioning off all the fixtures. Time to buy a piece of history.

A bit of local excitement

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From The Bellingham Herald:

Kendall Elementary placed in lockdown after police pursuit
Students at Kendall Elementary School were sheltered in place for hours Wednesday, when a car chase ended with a driver ditching the vehicle next door to the school.

A state trooper tried to pull over a driver for a seat belt violation at 10:07 a.m. on Kendall Highway, near Peaceful Valley, said Washington State Patrol Sgt. Keith Leary. The southbound driver led police on a brief pursuit, and bailed from the car by a field south of the school in the 7500 block of Eason Road.

State troopers and Whatcom County sheriff’s deputies could not find the man. He remained at-large Wednesday afternoon. The reason he fled remains unclear, though troopers suspect the car wasn’t registered to him. The car has been impounded as evidence.

A description of the man hasn’t been made public.

Law enforcement informed the school the wanted man could be within “very close proximity” to the elementary school of 430 students, said Ben Thomas, director of Finance and Operations for the Mount Baker School District.

School officials kept doors locked, in shelter-in-place mode, for the rest of Wednesday. Calls went out to parents alerting them to the situation.

I can not imagine what it would be like to be one of the parents, knowing that the moke had not been captured. The school is less than five miles from my home.

Why yes, I do live in the country

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Spotted in a community about eight miles due East of here:


I would not live anyplace else...

Seattle station KING is doing a live event to get people prepared for the next big one to hit Puget Sound. Here is some footage from the 2001 Nisqually event:

From KING5:

Learn how to be as prepared as possible during a special presentation "SHAKE ALERT: Are you ready for the next big earthquake?" Interact with a live panel discussion about earthquake readiness on Monday at 7:30 p.m. KING 5's Lori Matsukawa and Glenn Farley have been researching earthquake preparedness from the Washington coast to the coast of Japan. They'll be joined by Bill Steele, Director of Outreach & Communications from the University of Washington's Pacific Northwest Seismic Network. You can join the conversation live on or the KING 5 Facebook page. Use the hashtag #ShakeAlert on Twitter to send questions during the live presentation.

Start getting ready now with this helpful list of resources shared by agencies across the Pacific Northwest: 

KING 5 earthquake coverage: 

Special thanks to the following agencies for sharing critical resources about earthquake readiness: University of Washington Pacific Seismic NetworkWashington State Emergency ManagementAmerican Red CrossUniversity of OregonOregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries, the Southern California Earthquake Center, and Caltech

This is an excellent collection of links and reference materials.

Rain in the news

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Been raining off and on this evening. Got another tenth of an inch for 0.3" in the last 24 hours. Pretty soggy out there. Had three hailstorms move through - lots of little squalls. And then, at 4:40PM, the National Weather Service dropped this little item:

Those venturing into the mountains or traveling through the higher
passes should plan for possible wintry conditions this weekend
into early next week. The main snow level will be around 4000
feet but may fluctuate with heavier showers. Initially through
Saturday night, accumulations will be relatively light and mainly
above the passes.

Another system will arrive on Sunday, followed by potentially
stronger low pressure system Monday into Tuesday. These systems
may bringing more significant precipitation to the mountains.
Snow accumulations in the mountains could reach 3 to 5 inches
above 4500 feet on Sunday. Even higher amounts could fall with the
next system by late Monday into Tuesday. Those planning activities
or travel through the mountains should monitor forecasts closely
over the next several days.

And this is all the while that our Department of Trabnsportation is digging out the mountain passes trying to get them open for the summer. Here is a current photo from the WSDOT of the gate leading to Artist Point at the end of the Mt. Baker Highway - this is how much snow is left:


Quite the cluster of small quakes near Bremerton this morning - biggest one was Mag 3.1 and was felt near Seattle.


Seattle's new tunnel

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They are replacing an old elevated highway (State Route 99) with a new underground tunnel. The Washington Department of Transportation just released this video of the final breakthrough today - great job!

More here: Alaskan Way Viaduct

No word as to the cause yet but this from radio station KGMI

Power outage Monday for Cornwall Park area PSE customers
More than 4,000 Cornwall Park-area Puget Sound Energy Customers were without power for a while Monday.

The lights went out just before 11:30 and power was restored to most customers by 1:00.

The outage darkened traffic signals, causing congestion in areas.

It affected a bunch of stores and the bank I use - a lot more than Cornwall, it hit the Sunset area as well.

A bit of news from south of here

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From The Olympian:

Man sets underwear on fire while passed out in Spanaway Walmart bathroom
A drunken man with a lit cigarette passed out on the toilet in a Spanaway Walmart bathroom and caught his underwear on fire Monday, according to Central Pierce Fire & Rescue.

Firefighters were dispatched to the store at 20307 Mountain Highway E. about 6:30 p.m. after fire alarms went off, Central Pierce spokesman Brian Levings said Wednesday.

They went to the store and found the bathroom filled with smoke.

As the man sat on the toilet, drawers down, he fell asleep, and ash from his cigarette fell between his legs and ignited his underwear, Levings said.

The man slept through all this, Levings added.

And when the guy woke up:

“One of our guys actually used a dry chemical extinguisher to put out his pants while they were on him,” Levings said.

That roused the man, who then pulled a knife on the firefighters, Levings said.

Spanaway is about 20 miles due South of Tacoma, WA

Since February 9th, the Seattle wastewater treatment plant has been dumping raw sewrage into the Puget Sound. From today's The Seattle Times:

Mechanical systems restored at West Point plant, but dirty water still flowing into Puget Sound
The West Point Treatment Plant is getting back on track after cleaning, repair and replacement of equipment destroyed in a catastrophic flood Feb. 9.

The effluent discharged to the Puget Sound still does not meet permit standards, but it’s getting cleaner. All damaged mechanical systems have been repaired or replaced.

Workers restored or rehabilitated a mile of tunnels, 151 electrical motors, two miles of insulation, 40 motor control centers, 125 electrical panels, 25 electrical transformers, more than 1,200 outlets and switches as well as sedimentation tanks bigger than football fields, and digester tanks.

Plant staff will continue fine-tuning the biological processes essential to secondary treatment.

The size of the spill:

The flood resulted in diverting 235 million gallons of untreated wastewater from the crippled plant — including 30 million gallons of raw sewage — into Puget Sound, and pouring hundreds of tons of partially treated solids for months into the Sound that normally would have been cleaned from effluent leaving the plant.

They are expecting to be back in full operation by sometime May - like I said, I'm not eating shellfish or seafood from Puget Sound any time soon...

Seasons change

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I live in an area with definite seasons - Summer, Fall, Winter and Construction. Got this little bundle of joy from the WA State Department of Transportation:

Ski season wraps up, construction season moves in on SR 542
GLACIER – The season of fresh powder, first tracks and weekends at the hill has wrapped up along Mount Baker Highway and now the construction season is sliding in.

During the break between ski seasons, Washington State Department of Transportation contractor crews from Strider Construction will begin work on a fish passage project on State Route 542 west of Glacier. On Monday, May 15, crews will start work where Hedrick Creek flows under the Mount Baker Highway at milepost 32.

It is good that our infrastructure is being well maintained. A lot of this is driven by the tax revenues that the Mt. Baker ski area pours in to the State coffers but still, we have been having major projects on SR 542 every year. A definite impact on our Summer tourism. Why drive to Artist Point when the traffic is being screwed by construction?  The ski season is a major boon to our economy but it is the summer season that is the major economic driver for our area - people coming up to spend days at a time, camping, hiking, etc...

SR-503 rockslide update

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The Department of Transportation released an update on the work being done to clear SR-503 after the 20 ton rock slide. I had posted about it two weeks ago - they are now about halfway through clearing it up. Here are two videos:

Drone video of the SR 503 Slide east of Woodland, WA - shot when the slide first happened:

And here is one uploaded today showing preparation for the next blast:

Seeing a full sun

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From a local Facebook post - I know their pain:


Preparedness - earthquake

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Excellent article from Eric Holdeman at The Seattle Times:

Do you have an earthquake relocation plan? You should
If you think that an overturned propane tanker is bad news for road transportation, you have not seen anything yet. If you are a family, business or manufacturer, after a big earthquake you will be relocating out of the area just to survive.

At some future date there will be a significant earthquake that will hit this region. It could be the Cascadia Subduction Fault, the Seattle Fault, the Tacoma Fault, South Whidbey Island Fault or another earthquake fault we don’t even know exists. Imagine what the traffic impacts will be for the region when one mainline bridge collapses on any of the routes that are the lifeblood of this metro area. Remember, it is easily possible that more than one bridge might collapse and on multiple routes.

Then reflect that in California, following the Northridge earthquake, it took six months to rebuild one bridge — and they gave a verbal order to start tearing down the bridge the day after it collapsed. Atlanta is currently experiencing the impact of the I-85 bridge collapse due to a fire, and it not being available to carry 250,000 cars a day. Repair estimates are months, not weeks.

Ponder what the transportation environment will be when we lose one or more bridges. No one is moving anywhere because of our limited options for driving north-south or east-west through central Puget Sound. Trucking companies will not be making deliveries of food and other critical items like lifesaving prescriptions for those who need them. Port operations will cease. Our “just in time delivery system” will expose the fact that we live day-to-day on a razor thin margin of food, fuel and other critical supplies.

Some very good thoughts - most urban grocery stores depend on daily deliveries. Rural stores like mine (Crossroads Grocery in Maple Falls, WA) get several deliveries per week. Something blocks the trucks and our shelves are bare in a few days especially if there is a run.

The main highway from Bellingham has beeen washed out several times. This is not a matter of if, this is a matter of when. This Wednesday, a person from Whatcom County CERT program is coming out to try to organize a local CERT team in this area. We have a bunch of CERT trainiees but there is no cohesive team with a deployment plan. Seeing some nice progress in bringing this community together - planning to do a ham radio class later this fall.

Eric blogs at Emergency Management'sDisaster Zone.

A very slow and small one this time but enough to close the highway. From The Bellingham Herald:

Slow-moving landslide near site of 2014 slide shuts road
Authorities in Washington state say a road has been closed and some evacuations were recommended near a slow-moving landslide close to the site of a massive deadly slide northeast of Seattle in 2014.

Snohomish County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Shari Ireton said Friday that people who noticed cracks on a road near Oso this week called officials.

She says a state geologist who went to the area about 1.5 miles west of the 2014 slide found several sites where significant cracks in the slope indicated movement.

Geologists are calling it a "reactivation of small portion of a previous landslide," Ireton said in a news release.

The March 2014 mudslide killed 43 people.

Ireton says a one-mile stretch of a state highway has been closed as a precaution until at least Saturday when geologists can continue inspecting the area.

Specifically, occupants of 11 homes have been asked to evacuate. Other area residents are being updated on developments through the night.

The Oso slide was what prompted me to take the CERT training and get my radio license - there are a lot of things that can happen out here and we need to be personally responsible for our own well-being.

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