As we woke up Friday morning, our bedrooms had that certain briskness in the air that indicates only one thing ... power outage.  Nika (a friend/roommate) and his kid went to school to see if there is any school, power out there too.  We got a hold of another friend, Mary & Tony (Tony also works at Microsoft), power out at thier house and Microsoft.  As we were listening to the news and driving around we got to get the idea that pretty much everything was down, and it turned from "huh, I wonder if work is going to come up" day into Adventure Day lets see where power is, and find a warm place for Nika and Mary and the kids ...

Some data:

  • As of Friday morning, reportedly 1.3 M customers (is that homes/businesses or people I could never tell) were without power.
    • We heard there were multiple hospitals without grid power, and at this point you realize how far your work (even if it is Microsoft) is like down the priority list.
    • News also said 80% of Bellevue was without power.
    • PSE specifically had 700k down (the area that services my house) of ~1M customers.
      • Some 90 of 150 substations were down.
      • And 80 transmission line (over 1/2 of such lines) were damaged.
    • Apparently they've flown/flying in 100+ repair crews from other states.
  • We saw literally dozens of fallen trees close to our house ...
    • some of the streets were practically green with blown off tree branches. 
    • We ended up driving over the tops of 4 or so trees fallen across the road.
    • A house about 6 doors down, had a tree through its roof.
    • Along one road going by Microsoft we saw 7 down trees within a few blocks (I'm sure there is a [un]fair joke there at Microsoft's expense ... ;-)
  • Gusts to 60 - 80 mph in the general area during the wind storm on Thur night / Fri AM.

I love stats, but I don't think any of these put it in as much perspective as the traffic flow maps (which I figured out were a GREAT way to figure out if an area likely has power!), here is the seattle area map @~noon today.  Yesterday however was an even more severe story:


Since you can differentiate from No Equipment and No Data, we guessed No Data meant, No Power.  Nearly everything was out for I dunno, maybe 50 miles (including all of Microsoft's main campus that we heard about) of solid residential setting.  We drove for about 20 miles (which took 1.5 hours) without seeing a single spot of power that morning as we maneuvered North around the lake to get to friends w/ power/heat.  That's how massive it was ...

The funniest stories of the day ...

Eric went for a walk, came by my house (ironically while we were knocking on his door to see if he wanted to go North to heat with us :P) and Tony's house. Anyway, while he was at Tony's house he saw a crew clearing a tree from the road.  Now Tony's house was fine, but clearly one of the wires to his house was slack and low hanging over the road, pulled down by I believe some blown off branch in the middle of the night.  After the tree was cleared from the road, Eric saw a Comcast Cable truck try to sneak under it, and caught it on their ladder or roof rack, and nearly rip it off the pole. The two guys got out of the van, looked up at the pole / wire, and this was the approximate gist of the conversation:
    Guy 1: "Awww crap ... its cable."
    Guy 2:  "We should probably fix that."
Tony later came home and found them fixing his cable ... my they can be expedient ... of course they couldn't check it worked, no power.

The other funny story, was a news story (I tried to find it at the KiroTV.com web site, but couldn't, their site sucks for finding stuff you know you read there), about a guy who had _ten_ trees hit his house!  My friends and I agreed this must clearly be an evil man.  If God[1] throws 10 trees at your house, he is sending you a message, STOP that bad thing we all know you are doing, and mend your ways, or you will get smote.

We later got to validate that indeed the traffic maps were the best foreteller of power, because we heard on the news that Bellevue Square Mall was out, but Lincoln Center across the street had power ... however according to the downtown Bellevue traffic flow map, power was out at Lincoln Center and came back 1 block to the East ... later we went there to see a movie, and indeed Lincoln Center had only some sort of emergency lighting on, but not real power, such as to see a movie, but enough for Nika to play thier Grand Piano, which then security got VERY PISSY about, I think he thought we were young holigans or something, but Nika actually knows how to play pleasant Nordstrom style / elevator back ground music ... luckily the Galleria (which is coincidentally one block to the East ;) had power, so we were not thwarted in our movie quest!  We saw, "Bobby", it was a bit slow but ok.

It was rumored (though don't know it was actually true) said there were only like 3 working gas stations in downtown Bellevue (that's the green near the yellow camera and bellevue sign in the map), and we heard police had to be deployed to keep order at one point, and direct traffic ... they at one point had sectioned off the street for several blocks to the south, just to create a line into the gas station, and the wait was apparently ridiculous.  This wasn't a problem for us because we decided to wait until after our movie (@ midnight Sat) before visiting, so we ended up waiting maybe 10 minutes.

The # of customers (or people?) dropped to 900k without power by the end of Friday, according to the news.  Lastly when we came home that night, we checked our mailbox, and indeed some US Postal mail was there, hows the motto go, "neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow..." ... well they should add wind if it isn't there already.  Apparently our Govenor declared a state of emergency, I think today / saturday.

Cheers,

BrettSh (msft) 

[1] Not that I do or don't believe in God, I'm just saying ...TEN TREES!?

Update: MartinC showed me that wsdot has historical data, so I replaced my own previously doctored version with the actual map at 11:20 AM on Friday, it is even more effective at showing what it looks like to have 1.3 M customers without power.