Looking back at the Hanukkah Eve wind storm 16 years ago
Sixteen years ago, the Hanukkah Eve Wind Storm struck western Washington. On the evening of Dec. 14 into early Dec. 15, the storm plowed through the region with wind gusts up to 100 mph.
Thousands of trees were blown down, knocking out power to over 1.5 million people and producing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. The storm destroyed about 70% of Puget Sound Energy’s infrastructure and inflicted considerable damage to Seattle City Light, Tacoma Power, and other area utilities and PUDs.
With the forecast of strong winds, many of these utilities asked in advance for help from crews well outside the region, arriving before the storm hit. Even with the extra help, some people did not get their power back until Christmas Day.
The storm resulted in 15 fatalities, four of them directly from the storm, and 11 in the days that followed as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Thanks to the cold and lack of power, some people used barbeques and other heating and cooking elements indoors causing the tragic post-storm deaths. Hundreds were also poisoned.
The region gets a strong, powerful, widespread wind event like the Hanukkah Eve Wind Storm of December 2006 about every 10 years. But it has now been 16 years, and we are seemingly overdue.
Now is the time to prepare for these powerful storms with extra supplies like non-perishable food, water, prescriptions, cash, and other necessities at home. Backup power generators must be properly ventilated outdoors. Visit ready.gov or the American Red Cross Preparedness website for helpful tips that can make wonderful holiday gifts for loved ones.
Another thoughtful holiday gift idea for loved ones is an all-hazards NOAA Weather Radio receiver. They provide immediate notification of weather warnings and other emergency warning messages from local jurisdictions.
A weather radio receiver was quite helpful prior to, through, and following the Hanukkah Eve Wind Storm, including its features like battery backup, AM/FM radio, and USB ports to charge cell phones.
There are nine NOAA Weather Radio stations in Western Washington reaching nearly everyone in the region including stations near Seattle, Olympia, Puget Sound, and Whatcom County.
Remember, when you are weather aware, you are weather prepared!
Follow Ted Buehner, the KIRO FM news meteorologist on Twitter