After a Monday breather, the wind will pick up on Tuesday

Share story

Hang on for another round of wind and rain. That’s the word from the National Weather Service even as tens of thousands of Puget Sound-area homes and business remained out of power from last week’s storms.

In Bellevue, it may be well into next week — or longer — before crews can reopen a busy stretch of West Lake Sammamish Parkway undermined by a Sunday mudslide that damaged four homes and cut water service to dozens more.

Monday’s benign weather was relief to utility crews trying to reach and repair downed lines, but trees weakened by last week’s ice storm continued to fall into power lines.

By early Monday evening, Puget Sound Energy reported it was down to 36,000 Western Washington customers without power, having restored power to 370,000 in the past week.

But a Weather Service advisory called Monday “the calm before the storm,” noting that a weather system due Tuesday morning and lasting into Wednesday carries the potential for sustained winds of 30 to 40 mph with gusts up to 60 mph along the Washington coast and in Skagit and Whatcom counties.

Strong winds are also expected in the central Puget Sound region with gusts over 30 mph Tuesday, increasing to as much as 46 mph in Seattle by Tuesday night. Flooding is also possible, particularly in Southwest Washington

Along West Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast, crews were dealing with “a significant landslide and a significant hole,” said Mike Jackman, Bellevue’s interim deputy utilities director.

He said in places, sections of roadway were hanging in midair with as much as 30 to 40 feet of earth missing from beneath them.

On Monday, a contractor brought load after load of debris out from the slide area and Jackman said more debris removal is necessary before crews will be able to get in and determine how the roadway will be supported, and estimate the duration of the closure.

In the meantime, a two-block section of the road, approximately the 500 and 600 blocks of West Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast, is completely closed to traffic. Beyond that, a stretch of about two miles, from Northup Way to Southeast 26th Street, is open only to residents of the affected area.

Jackman said the slide, which occurred about noon Sunday, tore away a big section of hillside above the lakefront homes, spilling into the lower floor of one home and the garage of another, and spreading across the yards and against the exterior of two other homes.

“No one was hurt, and we feel very fortunate,” Jackman said, noting that the slide damage can be repaired.

It’s still not clear whether a water-main break along the route was caused by the slide or contributed to it. By late Monday afternoon, water service had been restored to all but two of the 30 homes initially without water.

Since the series of storms began last week, Puget Sound Energy has seen outages at more than a third of its 1.1 million electrical customers in the state, said spokesman Roger Thompson.

He said 1,500 line workers were on the job Monday, including crews and electrical workers brought in from as far away as Missouri, Indiana and Alaska. It could take months to calculate what the utility will be spending on these repairs, he said.

Tuesday’s storm could be particularly hazardous because soils saturated during the past week may allow trees to topple into power lines and across roadways more easily than usual.

The Bellevue mudslide prompted the Northwest Insurance Council to remind homeowners that damage caused by earth movement, such as a landslide, is typically not covered in standard homeowner policies.

Karl Newman, Northwest Insurance Council president, said customers may want to talk with their agents about “difference in conditions” policies that would cover landslides, mudslides and floods. The coverage typically costs about $1,000 or more on a $300,000 house, he said.

Jack Broom: 206-464-2222 or jbroom@seattletimes.com. Material from The Associated Press was included in this report.