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The Murkworks

And, back again

We’re being all yo-yo-y over here with the power going up and down and up and down and back up again. But now at least, we are again back.

For those of you who didn’t see my post earlier, we got some rain in this afternoon. Things were fine until we heard a loud pop somewhere near our house, at which point our power went down. I got onto the PSE app on my phone and reported the outage.

Not long after that, a PSE truck showed up in our driveway with a couple of crew investigating. They told us a branch had come down on the lines near our house, which tripped the circuit, and they just needed to get a truck in that could reach it.

So we went ctrl-alt-fuckit and went out for dinner. Fortunately, while we were out, the power came back. Let’s see if we stay back up this time!

Hold Together

Hold Together


Yesterday’s commute adventure

The big story in Seattle yesterday was the rollover of a butane tanker, which hit four cars and caused a 7-hour shutdown of I-5. Area natives and long-time residents know: if I-5 gets shut down, traffic around here is completely fucked. And that’s exactly what happened. The Washington State DOT started warning mid-afternoon that drivers should avoid downtown Seattle if at all possible, which of course meant that all the drivers who couldn’t get on the highway were clogging up the side streets.

And a lot of folks were stuck on the highway for multiple hours, too. Long enough that an enterprising taco truck opened for business, which I think is my favorite part of the entire story. ;D

Complicating the matter was that we also got hit with some freakish weather: a brief snowstorm that rolled in just after 3pm. We’re talking thundersnow here, people. There’s even video (see the link) of lightning striking the Space Needle.

Remembering my epic saga of the Worst Commute Ever, which I VERY MUCH DID NOT WANT TO DO AGAIN, I bailed on work around a quarter after 3 and headed home. I hung out at the bus stop at Elliott and Western for about five or ten minutes, thinking that I’d catch a bus to the bus tunnels–and see then whether I should a) try to catch one of my usual busses, a 522 or a 312, or b) get on the light rail to get to the U-district instead.

When I got to the bus stop was about when the thundersnow hit. And while I was waiting, chatting with a couple other folks, we all were VERY startled by thunder and lightning interspersed with the increasingly vigorous mix of snow and ice pellets coming down. Icy slush started building up very quickly on the road.

Thundersnow Slush

Thundersnow Slush

My phone’s OneBusAway app claimed that the next busses were due in a couple of minutes. The app was mistaken. Elliott very quickly turned into a parking long, with a long line of vehicles in the southbound lanes stretching well past Big Fish and the buildings beyond. It became very obvious very quickly that busses were NOT going to reach us in a timely fashion.

So while I wasn’t exactly happy about walking in these conditions, I punted to plan B: hoofing it to the bus tunnels. (I had flirted with the idea of catching a 32 to the U district instead, but given the condition the roads were in, that seemed ill-advised. Also much slower, given that the 32 takes a meandering path through Fremont before it finally reaches the U-district.) Fortunately I had on my Yaktrax, so walking wasn’t really a problem. And I had on my scarf to protect my face, and a heat pack in my pocket. I had my work laptop in the backpack, which meant a heavier than usual load to carry, but eh, could have been worse.

On my way up Denny I passed a #2 bus which was having a very hard time with the slush, and which got stuck for multiple minutes as I watched it. It wasn’t the only bus I saw without snow chains, either. All along 3rd, I saw a long line of busses trying to head north–very slowly. Lots of cars on that street and all the intersecting ones, too. I was frankly stunned that nobody actually ran into anybody else, given how slushy the roads were.

I made it to the bus tunnels just in time to miss an outbound train. (Also, walking through the bus tunnels while wearing Yaktrax? Kinda hard. But I didn’t really want to take them off, given that I wasn’t sure what kind of conditions I’d find on the way home.)

The next train was very crowded, and the driver even told folks trying to get on that he had two more trains queued up behind him. But by then I was already on board and wasn’t about to go anywhere. And really, once I made it onto the train, I was fine. Downtown->U-district by light rail is very fast, only two stops. And once I got off at the U-district station, I found that the thundersnow had not impacted the roads there at all. I walked over to Campus Parkway, and got to the bus stop there pretty much exactly as a 372 was pulling up. SCORE.

I pinged Dara to ask her to pick me up at the bottom of our hill, since our neighborhood roads were also clear, and walking with Yaktrax on and a heavier than usual backpack was tiring and I didn’t want to go up our hill. And the 372 zipped along at a nice steady typical pace, so all in all, it only took me a little longer than usual to get home. I was home well before 6pm.

Other folks–not so much. When I got into work this morning, several coworkers were commiserating on our Slack channels about how long it took them to get home. A couple folks said it took them over four hours. And given that I-5 was closed until around 7pm, Metro and Sound Transit were still absolutely impacted–I saw a tweet that indicated a bunch of busses that normally traveled along I-5 were running over 90 minutes late. So yeah, if I’d had to take the usual 522 or 312, my commute home would have taken a lot longer.

The moral of this story: ALL HAIL LIGHT RAIL.

Any Seattle-area locals want to chime in on how well the commute did or did not treat you?


Songda turned out to be a bust, and I feel fine

So it turned out that the predicted storm on Saturday was way, way less intense than the forecasters were saying. Enough that KOMO’s weather guy and Cliff Mass both posted embarrassed commentary along the lines of “yep, we pooched this one big time, sorry about that!”

From news articles I saw go up on Sunday, a lot of people took to Twitter to complain about this, particularly in re: how they got emergency supplies for nothing. To some degree I sympathize with that. It is annoying to be told by local officials “OH SHIT BIG STORM COMING IN EVERYBODY GET READY”, only to have that not actually happen.

But on the other hand, I also feel that this is actually the far preferable scenario. If the forecasters are going to fuck up a forecast, I would much rather have it be “far better than expected” rather than the other way around. Mr. Mass and his compatriots are getting shit for screwing this up, sure, but they’d be getting a lot more shit if they’d been all “okay, garden-variety storm coming in” and it turns out to be “OH SHIT WORST STORM IN 54 YEARS”.

And honestly, it ain’t like we aren’t going to have more storms. Those emergency supplies everybody went out and got? We’ll be using them sooner or later. Probably sooner, for those of us in Kenmore. The 2016 storm season has only just started and I am positive Kenmore will lose power at least once more before the end of the year. My house did in fact go out for about 11 hours, from Friday afternoon to just before 1am Saturday morning, even if we held steady on Saturday night. Other locations in Kenmore did go out during Saturday’s bluster, too, as I saw on the PSE Outage Map.

Mr. Mass’s last post did include some chagrined acknowledgement that while he did try to communicate that there was uncertainty in how the storm would play out, and that any little deviation in its track could dramatically change the impact on Seattle, he clearly didn’t communicate that well enough. So here’s hoping that he and his local weather colleagues can come up with a good game plan to make that happen next time we have a potential severe weather situation.

Because it never hurts to be aware of the worst case scenario, even if that worst case scenario never materializes. Better data about how probable that scenario will be, though, will help us all make the proper judgment calls on how we plan our responses.

So hang in there, Puget Sound area weather people! Many sympathies for the difficulties of your job! And hopefully this is the worst that the 2016 storm season will throw us.


Opening act is done, headliner is on the way

Those of you who follow me on social media, or who saw the posts that went up on, LJ, and Dreamwidth last night, know we lost power around 2:30 yesterday afternoon. We were down all evening, but at least as of right now, we’re back.

How Are You?

How Are You?

Yesterday evening, we amused ourselves with playing around with instruments and with listening to one of the Big Finish audio adventures off my phone, piped through a Bluetooth speaker. The Cloisters of Terror turned out to be a delightful thing to listen to during a power outage! In no small part because Mr. Baker was in fine form in that story.

Here are the sorts of conversations we have in our house when the power is out!

Dara (while trying to figure out the chord progression for a song): OMG this chart doesn’t HAVE an A flat! They just skipped it!

Me (nodding sagely): ‘What damn fool would want to play an A flat chord on a bouzouki?’

And also:

Me: Okay good chiro has power. So I will go out tomorrow and bring back any necessary things. Be thinking about necessary things I can bring back.

Dara: Electricity! 4 buckets of electricity!

Paul: I think the fridge is going to need more than 4 buckets.

Dara: Okay, 6 buckets! Go to Costco.

George, bless his little kitty heart, kept wandering around mewing in a sort of “EVERYTHING IS DARK AND WEIRD AND QUIET WHY IS IT LIKE THIS AND WHY ARE YOU ALL IN THIS OTHER ROOM OH HEY THE FIRE IS ON YAY WARM”. And once we settled in to listen to the audio, George curled up in front of the fireplace to go zzzzzzzz.

I went to bed around 10:30ish and woke up just before 1am when the noise of the neighbors’ generators shut up. I sleepily realized the clock was blinking, checked the time on the phone (which I was keeping by our bed), and noted 12:54. So our power must have come back just a few minutes before that, long enough for neighbors to go YAY and turn their generators off.

Dara brought the servers back up this morning, and I scampered out to go to chiro and Safeway and the booze store (so that I could replenish the cake vodka and Baileys supply, and OH BY THE WAY YOU GUYS, I did find another bottle of Pumpkin Spice Baileys, which is an actual thing that exists and you should try it if those are words that sound like fun to you). Dara is heading out now that I’m home again, as the Norwescon concom has a meeting today, and they kinda can’t cancel it, because it’s at the hotel and they’re contractually obligated to use the rooms when they’re booked for. But she’s going to scamper back here ASAP when the meeting is done.

As of this writing Seattle City Light has a mere 11 customers out. Puget Sound Energy has 5,125 down still. And I gotta say, cranky as I am that PSE has been so random in our power service this year, their crews were out last night working their asses off. And that we got power back in the dead of night means their crews were out there in the wet dark, working for us. So kudos to them for that.

The current High Wind Warning is supposed to kick in at 3pm this afternoon and run until 2am, with the peak winds now expected between 5pm and 10pm. Cliff Mass has his current forecast up here, and from what he’s saying, the storm is still aiming for north of us, but we’ll be on the very edge of it. Seattle proper may dodge a bullet, but chances are high that Kenmore will get hit harder. And even if damaging winds don’t smack us, chances are VERY high we will lose power again, possibly for days. Expect that will go down again, in which case I will continue to post updates on as well.

And given that the wind conditions yesterday still caused quite a lot of damage (note the gallery of pics on the Seattle Times’ updates here, PARTICULARLY the snapped power pole), I’m still expecting things to be very, very messy tonight and into tomorrow.

Brace for impact, Cascadians. Charge all your devices. Do your laundry while you still have power. Songda is COMING.

The Murkworks

Batten down the hatches, October 2016 edition

This weekend’s storm action has begun.

Amazingly, our house made it through last night’s windstorm action without losing power for more than a couple of minutes at a time. We did have several tiny power hits, and we’re continuing to have them this morning, but so far our power is holding. And every time I see our power flicker, I go into Han Solo mode.

Hold Together!

Hold Together!

Not so much for a lot of other local folks; as of this writing, over 11,000 people are showing as out on the PSE Outage Map. This number has been fluctuating mightily over the last couple of hours, but it’s not dropped below 6,000 as of when I got up.

Reports have been that the morning commute has been wretched as well. There has been water on the roadways, a lot of collisions, and for a little while even, the SB express lanes on I-5 were shut down. Between that and the word that Hillary Clinton is here for a private fundraising event downtown, which has the potential to pooch the evening commute up RIGHT good, I NOPED right out of trying to commute today and am currently trying to work from home.



Local news reports have downgraded expectations for tomorrow’s storm from “comparable to the Columbus Day storm in 1962” to “comparable to the storm we had in December 2006”. KOMO’s report on that is here. And Cliff Mass put up a post yesterday with an updated forecast here.

From what these reports were saying, we had conflicting models in play as to where the remnants of Typhoon Songda were going to hit. And now these models appear to have split the difference, which means we’re going to have a mess on our hands tomorrow. Not as severe a mess as earlier worries indicated, but still a mess.

I was here for the 2006 storm and that’s the one that had a lot of local people without power for 9-10 days, even on our hill. We were only down for about two and a half days but that’s still a lot. Here are my LJ posts from that month:

Batten down the hatches

Hardcore power flickers at the Murkworks

9:45pm, mark

Murkworks update

And we’re up

Electricity, it’s good to have you back!

Storm debris pictures

So yeah. That storm was a mess. And if tomorrow’s action is going to be similar, we’re in for some fun times. It’s supposed to get windier later today, too, and it’s windy in Kenmore right now.

Let’s see how long we stay up and if I manage to get today’s dayjob tasks done. Place your bets!

And everybody stay safe and dry out there!

Editing to add: Holy crap, Seattle City Light’s got nearly 20,000 out right now. Puget Sound Energy’s got over 16,000. And this is the warmup act for tomorrow. There are outages just north of the Big Fish office, too, so this will be me being a little happy I NOPED right out of trying to commute. Coworkers on our Slack system are reporting flickering lights in the office.


Heads up, Puget Sound: MAJOR storm action rolling in

For those of you who didn’t see me post this on my social media accounts last night and this morning, particularly those of you who like me are on Puget Sound Energy for your electricity, especially if you actually live west of Seattle: we have major storm action rolling in starting tomorrow night.

High Wind Watch for tomorrow night as reported by Wunderground

Cliff Mass reporting on the storm systems (MULTIPLE) coming in

Money quotes from Mr. Mass’s post:

“Starting Thursday, we will enter a period of extraordinarily active weather with the potential for heavy rain, flooding, and a highly dangerous windstorm with the potential to be an historic event.”

“A true monster storm, potentially as strong as the most powerful storm in NW history (the Columbus Day Storm of 1962) will be approaching our area on Saturday.”

“If the models are wrong and the storm’s track heads further east, Puget Sound could get a very major hit with massive power outages and damage. This is a very dangerous storm.”

KOMO News article that says we actually also have a THIRD storm rolling in next week

All this basically means, everybody start prepping for power outages, because it sure sounds like we’re going to have ’em. Spread the word and batten down the hatches.

Chances are very, very high that the Murkworks will lose power some time during this action. If that happens, remember that will be DOWN, but my backup site,, will remain available!

Editing to Add:

New Special Statement posted on Wunderground. Says we have a 1 in 3 chance of getting a direct hit in the Seattle area. 2 in 3 chance that the main brunt of Saturday’s action will hit Vancouver Island instead. Any Canadian friends reading me who live on Vancouver Island, or who have friends or family who live there, you all should be keeping an eye on this storm too.

And OH HEY LOOK the Seattle Times is pulling stuff out of its archives about the 1962 storm that Cliff Mass is invoking in his forecast. A storm which, it might be added, killed 46 people and closed the World’s Fair.

Editing to add #2:

KOMO says Seattle city utilities are urging residents to clear storm drains before the storms get here.

KOMO is also reporting that the National Weather Service is warning that this sequence of storms could be very destructive.

Seattle-area friends, even if Saturday’s storm doesn’t hit us directly, Saturday is likely to be a mess. Be ready regardless.


Windstorm forecast for tomorrow night, site outage likely

Heads up to anyone who didn’t already see me post this on social media this afternoon: we have a windstorm forecast for tomorrow, and there’s already a High Wind Warning up with some details. We’re talking potential gusts up to 70mph in late afternoon and early evening.

And y’all know what this means: probable power outage at the Murkworks. Which will in turn impact the availability of my and sites, Dara’s, and all other websites, mailing lists, and other resources that we host. So please be advised that chances are VERY high that we’ll lose power some time tomorrow.

Dara and I will post the usual alerts if this happens. Apologies in advance for anyone who might try to visit my site over the next 24-48 hours, if I do indeed go down!

(And apologies for anyone who tries to come by this afternoon when I was also down. We lost power TODAY too, but that was apparently due to downed trees that took out power in Kenmore for about 1,200 customers. Trees that were, I suspect, weakened by this past Wednesday night’s storm. Ah, the joys of living in the PNW in March!)

If you’re local, I recommend battening down all the hatches, and stocking up on ice for your coolers and batteries for your flashlights. Tomorrow could get tricky.