Lightning causes minor power blips, no major outages, on North Olympic Peninsula

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

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Public utility officials in both Clallam and Jefferson counties reported no major power outages caused by lightning from Thursday night’s storms, though they said customers likely experienced
minor electrical blips.

Showers and thunderstorms likely will stay away from the North Olympic Peninsula this weekend and into next week as a high-pressure system moves in and parks itself over most of the region, according to the National Weather Service.

“I think you’re probably pretty much done with showers,” said Danny Mercer, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Seattle.

Jefferson County

Kevin Streett, electrical superintendent for the Jefferson County Public Utility District, said today (Friday) that his crews did not respond to any outages caused by the weather.
“No major outages, no prolonged outages whatsoever,” Streett said.

He said, however, customers likely could have experienced quick power blips that might have caused digital clocks to reset themselves, for example, or other difficulties.

“We believe all the blips were weather-related,” Streett said.

Clallam PUD

Nicole Clark, executive assistant to the general manager of the Clallam County Public Utility District, said crews replaced one utility-pole-mounted electrical transformer along Kendall Road just north of Sequim after it had been struck by lightning.

The repairs shut off power temporarily for two customers late Thursday afternoon, Clark said.

That evening, crews replaced a fuse on another pole-mounted transformer along Hudon Road, less than a mile away from the Kendall Road transformer, Clark said.

The Hudon Road repair affected one customer, she added.

Port Angeles

Craig Fulton, Port Angeles public works and utilities director, said no repairs were needed or outages reported.

A crew was sent to William R. Fairchild International Airport in Port Angeles to ensure no infrastructure was damaged when the airport briefly switched to generator power because of a power blip.

Fulton said city residents might have experienced power blips of between one and two seconds because of the storm.

“If you had electronic devices, they might have reset, depending on how they’re set up,” Fulton said.

Fulton said city public works staff learned from Bonneville Power Administration, or BPA, officials that the multi-state electrical power provider had experienced several lightning strikes along its system.

BPA infrastructure automatically switching to protect itself from electrical surges likely would have translated into power blips for BPA customers in Clallam and Jefferson counties, Fulton said.

“It was a trickle-down effect from the storms, is what we’re hearing from BPA,” Fulton said.

Lightning strikes

Johnny Burg, another National Weather Service meteorologist based in Seattle, said Clallam County saw between 10 and 15 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes Thursday night while Jefferson
County saw between 10 and 20.

The weather service’s detection equipment cannot track cloud-to-cloud lightning, Burg said, so residents likely saw more lightning than actually hit the ground.

The storms were focused primarily on the east part of the Peninsula, Burg said, with Port Townsend receiving about half an inch of rain Thursday while Port Angeles precipitation was 0.01 inches.

“I think the showers just mainly headed toward the east part of the Olympics, especially toward the southeast part,” Burg said.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at

Last modified: September 06. 2013 3:56PM
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