Recently in Local Events Category

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
Amazon.com 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:

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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 king5.com 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:

...UNSEASONABLY COLD AND UNSETTLED CONDITIONS IN THE MOUNTAINS THROUGH EARLY NEXT WEEK...
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:

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

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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:

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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.

That would be a big: Hell No!

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Seattle is running out of money but they want to keep spending it on social programs - warm and fuzzies. From The Seattle Times:

Seattle mayor drops property-tax plan, now seeks sales tax to fight homelessness
Barely a month after announcing it, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer are scrapping their plan for a $275 million homelessness property-tax levy.

Rather than ask city voters to approve the levy in August, Murray now intends to work with King County Executive Dow Constantine on a 2018 ballot measure that would use a 0.1 percent county sales-tax increase to combat homelessness, the mayor said Monday.

“We’re moving away from the property tax,” Murray said in a meeting with The Seattle Times editorial board.

The move represents an abrupt change in direction for Murray, who touted the levy in his State of the City address in late February, saying it would nearly double Seattle’s spending on homelessness in an effort to move people from the streets into housing.

Just great - hit the middle-class property owners with yet another assessment on their property. The wealthy can just suck it up but the middle-class citizens are seeing their taxes go up and up and up with no relief in sight. I hope the citizens of Seattle do not start moving to Bellingham - they are welcome here just so they do not bring their toxic 'social justice' programs with them.

I find it telling that the goal of the Mayor is to provide cheap housing for the homeless. What really needs to be done is better care of our veterans and better mental health programs. Take care of those two and you will knock out 95% of the homeless problem. I can only imagine the push-back that resulted in such a dramatic volte-face.

Shows you how in tune I am with the world of air travel - this was news to me. From The Seattle Times:

Alaska will fold Virgin America brand within two years
Alaska Air Group said Wednesday it will eventually drop the Virgin America brand name, a decision that may test the loyalty of Virgin customers who prized the airline’s hip and irreverent sensibility.

Seattle-based Alaska, which late last year completed its $4 billion acquisition of San Francisco-based Virgin America over the protests of founder Richard Branson, said the change will be made “likely sometime in 2019.”

The company said in a statement that the combined Alaska Airlines “will adopt many of the brand elements that Virgin America enthusiasts love about their favorite airline, including enhanced in-flight entertainment, mood lighting, music and the relentless desire to make flying a different experience for guests. The goal is to create a warm and welcoming West Coast-inspired vibe.”

The two are a good fit - both companies think outside of the box (to use a marketing buzzword). Alaska started in the 1930's with one plane flying out of Anchorage and quickly expanded to 22 aircraft. A fun pioneering history. Virgin America is a real newcomer - founded in 2004 with its first flight in 2007. Sir Richard Branson is sad to sell but he will make a lot of money - one estimate is $786 Million (Alaska Air is paying $2.6 Billion for the line)

Three years ago today - Oso

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A tragic landslide happened three years ago today. From The Bellingham Herald:

Three years later, families, officials and scientists wrestle with lessons learned from Oso landslide
Deborah Farnes looked forward to the day she would testify about the March 22, 2014, Oso landslide that killed her husband, Tom Durnell, while she was away at work at a hospital in Everett.

She hoped to share her grief over the loss of her spouse and 42 other people, and the anger that followed as she learned – for the first time – about the scope of the hazards posed by the hillside that came crashing down during that awful spring day three years ago.

“I wanted this to go to trial, and for this information to be made public. That there was this danger that existed,” Farnes said. “ I didn’t know about that until after everyone died, and it was too late.”

The trial was forestalled by $60 million in settlements reached just before the Oct. 10, 2016, scheduled start of opening arguments. But the years of legal sparring that led to that resolution put a spotlight on landslide risks in the Pacific Northwest, and the uneasy interplay between scientists who have the knowledge to assess that potential and government officials who must decide what – if anything – to do to protect the people who may live in harm’s way.

The civil case, involving 29 plaintiffs, some with multiple claims, had loomed as one of the largest tort cases in Washington history. It was brought by Farnes and other survivors who alleged that the state and a timber company – Grandy Lake Forest Associates – had taken actions that increased the risks of a catastrophic slide and failed to inform their neighbors in Steelhead Haven along the North Fork of the Stillaguamish about that potential.

The instability of the land was already known and there had been talk about buying the residents out and having them re-locate:

“If you are dealing with landslide hazards … you at some point, implicitly or explicitly, have to decide what level of risk is acceptable, and most decision-makers have to rely on people like me in order to do that,” said Dan Miller, a geomorphologist who wrote some of the early reports warning about Oso’s deep-seated landslide formation. “So what kind of information are they getting?”

1999 study prepared by Miller for the Army Corps of Engineers cited the potential for a catastrophic failure of what was known as the Hazel Landslide formation, and a 2000 study for the corps listed buying out the residents of Steelhead Haven as an option to reduce the risks of loss of life.

And the whole valley is unstable:

Since the slide, new research has documented a history of more than 200 other deep-seated landslides along a 15.5-mile stretch of the North Fork of the Stillaguamish that includes the Oso site. Many occurred from a few hundred to a few thousand years ago, and some had enough power to move across the river.

“The valley’s geomorphology shows that it is capable of failing in a big catastrophic fashion, but predicting where it will fail is not easy,” said Sean LaHusen, a University of Washington researcher, a co-author of the study that was published this year in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

I already had my amateur radio license but it was Oso that prompted me to get more involved with Emergency Communications and CERT. Our own little hamlet has its share of risks - volcano, earthquakes, lahar, landslide, forest fire. That and we are at the end of a long and thin supply line - anything that disrupts traffic for more than a couple of days and people will start running out of food and supplies.

Winter wonderland - WSDOT

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Our State Department of Transportation just released this video about February's storm. Starting around 0:33 seconds, they look at my highway - SR-542. I live off of milepost 27, the video was shot a little further up the road at milepost 38, just past where I go for coffee. Gorgeous but treacherous.

All this rainfall is having an effect

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From The Bellingham Herald:

Heavy rains mean heightened risk of flooding, landslides
The never-ending rain could bring more than griping this week – flooding rivers and landslides are also possible.

On Tuesday morning, a landslide in Tacoma closed Marine View Drive at East 11th Street.

The National Weather Service issued a flood watch through Wednesday morning in Pierce, King and Mason counties and warned that moderate to heavy rains could cause minor flooding on some rivers.

Be careful out there.

Life in the country - avalanche

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From the Skagit Valley Herald (about 50 miles due South of here):

Avalanche blocks Highway 20
An avalanche between Newhalem and Diablo is blocking Highway 20 and will not be cleared until next week.

The avalanche is believed to have happened late Thursday night or early Friday morning, state Department of Transportation spokeswoman Andrea Petrich said.

Some gorgeous country - Diablo is a company town owned by Seattle City Light - it is where the people who work on the hydro dams live. Highway 20 is shut down at the pass but this avalanche complicates things for people living in the area.

Some traffic problems South of here

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Would not want to be driving in King County today. From The Seattle Times:

Semitruck carrying propane rolls over on I-5 in Seattle, shuts down freeway
All lanes of Interstate 5 were shut down Monday morning after a semitruck carrying propane rolled over, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation. The freeway is closed between Interstate 90 and the West Seattle bridge. WSDOT previously reported the truck was carrying butane.

A spokesman for WSDOT said there is still no estimate of when the freeway may reopen.

“Drivers should plan for a rough afternoon commute,” said spokesman Marquise Allen. He asked motorists to delay or cancel any trips into Seattle planned for this afternoon. “It’s a standstill out there.”

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Interstate 5 is the major North/South route for this area - it goes from Vancouver, B.C. down to Tijuana, Mexico - this will impact any truck shipping for the West coast.

And, from the WA State Department of Transportation:

Snoqualmie Pass Road & Weather Conditions
Snow and slush on the roadway. Collision on I-90 westbound at milepost 52, Snoqualmie Pass summit, is blocking the westbound lanes. Westbound traffic is stopped at milepost 106.

And of course, I-90 is the main East/West route. Like I said, I would not want to be driving in King County today...

Our local roads are snow-covered but very drivable - made it out for coffee and to the store and post office without any problem. The NWS has snow through tomorrow, TWC has rain coming in tomorrow - we will see...

A result of the heavy rains

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Earth movement - the brunt of the rainstorm hit south of here - from The Bellingham Herald:

Mudslides close roads in 3 cities, westbound I-90 in Issaquah
Heavy rains caused two mudslides early Thursday, forcing the closure of a Puyallup road and the westbound lanes of Interstate 90 in Issaquah.

The landslide in Puyallup occurred just after 6 a.m. in the 3400 block of East Pioneer Way near Shaw Road. Police advised drivers to avoid the area.

The road is expected to reopen after 1 p.m.

Shortly before 5 a.m., a large mudslide washed over I-90 and blocked all lanes east of Sunset Way. There is no estimated time to reopen them.

Troopers said several vehicles were disabled but no one was injured.

They now have a single lane of I-90 open and are still cleaning debris. The railroad tracks are also covered by a slide - a popular commuter train has stopped service. From SoundTransit:

Update:Sounder north line canceled due to a mudslide
Sound Transit sent this bulletin at 02/16/2017 05:59 AM PST
Update: Special bus service along with regularly scheduled bus service is below.

The joys of country living - I was outside bringing the garbage can back to the house and 50% of the driveway is down to gravel and mud but the other 50% is still slick ice.

Clearing the highways

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From the Washington State Department of Transportation - here they are working on the Mt. Baker Highway

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And it is official

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From Whatcom County:

Whatcom County Executive Jack Louws Signs Proclamation of Emergency
The northern and eastern communities of Whatcom County have been the most significantly impacted with extended power outages, snow measured in feet, drifting snow and all schools in Whatcom County being closed. The American Red Cross has opened a shelter at the East Valley Regional Center at 8251 Kendall Rd, Maple Falls, WA 98266 in response to requests from Whatcom County Fire District #14. The City of Lynden has also proclaimed an emergency in the City.

The East Valley Regional Center is about ten miles from here. We have a lot of our meetings there. It is also the site of a food bank. Amazing resource and really good people.

The Snowpocalypse

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Looks like we have another couple of days of this shit. Both forecasting agencies are showing rain on Thursday but snow until then: National Weather Service / The Weather Channel

Our main highway is closed due to fallen trees and snow - from the Washington State Department of Transportation:

SR 542 Deming - Both directions of SR 542 at the Coal Creek Bridge (milepost 36) are closed due to downed trees and heavy snow. There is no estimate for when the roadway will reopen.

Mt. Baker Ski area has suspended operations until tomorrow: Snow Report

Heading out with Buttercup the tractor to get hay out to the critters, move some crap around the driveway in preperation for Thursday's rain and load up the wood bin on the back porch, I will probably lose power again and staying warm is a good thing...

Snowboarding at Mt. Baker

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Great video - a couple guys from France come over to compete in the 2016 Legendary Banked Slalom

This is a very fun weekend and the video really conveys the energy of the event. Fun too to recognize the area and most of the people. One of the French guys won in the Professional Men category - Mathieu Crepel. He had also won back in 2000 in the Junior category.

Nice write-up on local Amateur Radio

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Sudden Valley is a large housing development to the southeast of Bellingham. Their local newsletter had a nice post on the use of Ham Radio during the epic snowfall of late December.

The newsletter is only online in PDF format but the story is on the top right of the first page so easy to find. Christmas snow, or how radio cleared the roads

Go with the flow

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Our local river is quite rapid today - this is not only the half-inch of rain but it is also the warm weather melting out the low-lying snowpack.

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Over a fifteen-fold increase in just two days.

Earth movement in our county

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The ground is always moving in a lot of places in our County. Here is a big rock that came down onto I-5 around Christmas eve. It was found to be loose so the DOT brought in some machinery to help it along. From the WA State Department of Transportation Flickr feed:

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A bit of a bust north of here

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From The Bellingham Herald:

Canadians recover 68 pounds of meth in bust at Lynden border crossing
A commercial driver was arrested when he tried to smuggle 68 pounds of methamphetamine into Canada through the Lynden border crossing in December, the Canada Border Services Agency announced Tuesday.

The northbound driver was taken into secondary inspection Dec. 11. Canadian border officers on the Aldergrove side of the crossing found a black suitcase in his vehicle, with 68 pounds of meth inside, according to a news release.

He was arrested and turned over to Langley Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Talk about stupid - to have it in a suitcase in his cab. If it was hidden in the cargo, he could at least claim plausible deniability. This way? No.

Quite the run - Bellingham to Baker trail

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Being organised by the Cascade Mountain Runners:

From their about the trail page:

BELLINGHAM-MT. BAKER TRAIL
The Trail
The Bellingham-Mount Baker trail is envisioned to be a non motorized hut to hut multi use trail system. Leaving the sidewalks of downtown and following the Whatcom creek trail out of the city, the trail will turn to single track as it makes it’s way to the mountain. When completed the trail will span over 50 miles from Bellingham bay to the edge of the Easton glacier. The trail will be open year round to hiker’s, runners, backcountry horsemen and mountain bikes.

The Route
The trail connects a string of public lands together and uses several miles of the remaining Deming-Mt. Baker trail, now the Ridley creek trail built in 1909. This trail was the inspiration for, and hosted the Mount Baker Marathon from 1911-1913. Starting at Cornwall beach, Bellingham’s new waterfront development the trail will leave the built environment within just a few miles as it makes it’s way to Mt. Baker. Newly planned trails will take you around the north side of Lake Whatcom and up and over Stewart mountain to the town of Acme. Leaving Acme through the new South fork park the trail will traverse Blue and Bowman mountains to reach the Middle fork of the Nooksack river. The trail will follow the river valley up and link into the Ridley Creek and Railroad grade trails, where the dirt trail ends. For the mountaineers who opt climb to the summit, 4 miles of glacier travel remain.

They ran this route earlier this year:

2016 MOUNT BAKER ULTRA RUN
On Sunday June 5th 2016, 11 of the 12 runners returned to Cornwall beach after completing the 108 mile journey to the summit of Mount Baker and back in 41 hours and 30 minutes.

This years run was the 6th run since the first attempt in 2013 in an effort to bring attention to the newly planned Bellingham-Mt. Baker trail and revive the original spirit of the 1911 Mt. Baker Marathon. Two successful runs were completed in 2014 and 2015 with a time of 48 hours and 17 minutes followed up by a 40 hour finish last year. The group run is non competitive, with each runner completing the entire 108 mile distance as part of the team. This year runners came in from Oregon and as far away as Australia. The 2016 team was made up of 3 women and 9 men, with 3 runners returning from previous runs.

The fun thing is that the Bellingham Chamber of Commerce sponsored a similar race back in 1911 - there is a great story about the winner and #2.

Winter - it is getting serious

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Of the high Cascade Range passes connecting Western Washington with the East, Snoqualmie Pass is the one that they keep open no matter what. It runs from downtown Seattle and is the major transportation route for goods coming in and out of our neck of the woods. Shit just got real - from the Bellingham Herald:

Interstate 90 westbound over Snoqualmie Pass closed
State transportation officials say Interstate 90 westbound remains closed over Snoqualmie Pass after multiple collisions and spinouts due to snow and icy conditions.

The Washington Department of Transportation said in a news release that the freeway closed in both directions at about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday between milepost 47 and milepost 106 near Ellensburg. Officials said the eastbound lanes had reopened by about 8:15 p.m. with chains or vehicles with all-wheel drive required.

Officials did not estimate when the westbound lanes of I-90 would reopen.

And, to make things more fun, there is an arctic cold front developing which could hit our area sometime early next week.

Road trip in a year or two - Hanford

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I knew that they were developing this into a National Historical Park. From The Seattle Times:

Hanford’s Manhattan Project park celebrates first year
The Manhattan Project National Historical Park at Hanford is a year old and proving to be quite popular.

About 13,000 people visited the park in its first year, despite its relatively remote location in southeastern Washington, far from the state’s major population centers.

“It’s a great number,” said Kris Kirby, who recently was named superintendent of the historical park.

She’s based in Denver and is splitting her time among the park’s three sites: the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland; Oak Ridge, Tenn.; and Los Alamos, N.M. Each community played a key role in developing the world’s first atomic bombs during World War II.

I am fascinated by nuclear energy - had the great pleasure of travelling with Lulu to visit Trinity Site two years ago. The main event at this park?

The centerpiece of the Hanford park is the B Reactor, the world’s first full-sized nuclear reactor. It was hurriedly built by the Manhattan Project in the darkest days of the war as the United States rushed to beat Nazi Germany in developing the first atomic bomb.

Tours?

Park tours are offered spring through fall, and Kirby wants to focus on increasing the number of people who take them.

Sounds like this new park is in good hands - looking forward to visiting in a year or two. One place I love that I have not been to in well over ten years is the Naval Undersea Museum at Keyport, WA. Maybe we can do a trip out there sometime this spring...

From the WA State Dept. of Transportation:

Chinook and Cayuse passes temporarily closing 10 a.m. Wednesday
MOUNT RAINIER – In advance of the forecasted storm in the mountains on Wednesday and Thursday, Chinook and Cayuse passes in Mount Rainier National Park will temporarily close at 10 a.m., Wednesday Nov. 23 as a precautionary measure. Crews will reevaluate conditions next week.

WSDOT will close Chinook Pass (elev. 5,430 feet) between Crystal Mountain Boulevard, about 12 miles northwest of the summit, and Morse Creek, five miles east of the summit. Cayuse Pass (elev. 4,675 feet) will close within Mount Rainier National Park from Crystal Mountain Boulevard to Stevens Canyon Road.

Fortunately, for those wanting to travel West to East, I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass is kept open except for the most dire of snowfalls.

And it is official - winter has arrived

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From the Washington State Department of Transportation:

Avalanche risk closes SR 20 North Cascades Highway
BURLINGTON – The North Cascades Highway section of State Route 20 is now closed until next spring.

The Washington State Department of Transportation has been monitoring the road and the avalanche chutes above the highway. WSDOT maintenance and avalanche technicians temporarily closed the highway Friday, Nov. 18, due to weekend snow forecasts.

Conditions were re-evaluated today, Monday Nov. 21, and more avalanche chutes are full and not stable – especially near Liberty Bell Mountain area – causing crews to close the road for the season.

“While there hasn’t been a ton of snow on the road, it’s continued building at higher elevations in the chutes,” said Twisp Maintenance Supervisor Don Becker. “The potential avalanche risk makes reopening unsafe for our crews and drivers.”

It re-opens in Spring - a gorgeous stretch of road but treacherous in winter.

June 2017

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