High winds over the weekend caused power outages across Klickitat County.
While significant winds were felt all over the county, the highest winds blew through upper elevations. Wind gusts near 85 miles per hour were recorded at private weather stations outside Goldendale.
Two areas of Klickitat PUD’s service territory were impacted by the high winds. The town of Glenwood and the surrounding area had reports of power outages beginning around noon on Saturday, Feb. 6. Customers in Glenwood had power restored around 6 p.m. Saturday evening, with the remaining customers all reconnected by 3 a.m. Sunday morning. The outage in the Glenwood area affected approximately 400 customers.
The other area impacted was near Satus Pass north of Goldendale. Numerous issues were identified near Jenkins Creek with the Box Canyon Road area seeing the most damage. Customers in these areas first began reporting power outages around 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon. Line patrols by KPUD engineering staff began finding issues within 15 minutes of the outage being reported and found the first green tree on a section of line 30 minutes later. These line patrols allowed KPUD operations personnel to begin directing resources to damaged areas of the system.
The continued high winds caused additional damage to lines as crews were working to repair the issues that had already been identified. All of the trees that fell into power lines during this outage came from outside the KPUD right-of-way and were green trees that had been uprooted or broken by the high winds. Because of this, it became more dangerous for KPUD’s linecrews and line patrol personnel to be out working as the afternoon and evening progressed and the winds increased.
To avoid injuries, the call was made around 2 a.m. Sunday morning to bring the crews and line patrol out of the field. Approximately 320 customers were without power in the Satus Pass area overnight.
Engineering manager Ron Schultz said that he only remembers a couple of times in the years that he’s been with Klickitat PUD when crews had to be pulled from repairing damage due to hazardous conditions—this being one of them. “The outage came on quick and was very hazardous for the crews,” Schultz said. “They would get line repaired, and additional trees would fall, and the line would come back down behind them.”
At first light on Sunday morning, engineering staff again began line patrols of the Satus Pass area. Due to the length of the outage and continued high winds overnight, the entire line had to be reassessed in order to locate any new damage. Additional areas were found that were in need of repair. The new information was relayed to linecrews as they returned to the field. Tree removal and line repair continued through the afternoon with many customers restored to power around 12:30 p.m. Most customers had power restored by 4 p.m. with the last customer reconnected at 6:45 p.m.
During the outage, Klickitat PUD updated customers regarding the outage status via Facebook and the utility’s website. Customers expressed appreciation for the updates, and there were reports from KPUD staff of customers checking on crews to make sure they were doing okay as they worked to restore power.
The work that has been done to remove dead trees and to maintain the electrical infrastructure and rights-of-way proved effective at reducing the number of downed trees and damage done to the system during the windstorm. The work continues even now.
Customers are always encouraged to contact Klickitat PUD at (800) 548-8357 to report a power outage.