❄️Winter Wonderland at City Light’s Hydroelectric Projects❄️

It’s that time of the year in Seattle. You know, when dreary clouds outstay their welcome and cold rain reliably pelts your face every time you venture outdoors.

While our facilities in Seattle have stayed soggy for most of the season, our other facilities are dealing with a different (and some would argue more pleasant) kind of precipitation: snow! Our hydroelectric projects in the North Cascades and in northeastern Washington have had enough snow to make Jack Frost jealous.

City Light employees from across the state sent us these frosty photos to show what the weather is like in their neck of the woods. Grab a cup of hot cocoa, wrap up in your favorite blanket and browse through these delightful snowscapes.

A special thanks to all of those who submitted photos!

❄️Winter Wonderland at City Light’s Hydroelectric Projects❄️

It’s that time of the year in Seattle. You know, when dreary clouds outstay their welcome and cold rain reliably pelts your face every time you venture outdoors.

While our facilities in Seattle have stayed soggy for most of the season, our other facilities are dealing with a different (and some would argue more pleasant) kind of precipitation: snow! Our hydroelectric projects in the North Cascades and in northeastern Washington have had enough snow to make Jack Frost jealous.

City Light employees from across the state sent us these frosty photos to show what the weather is like in their neck of the woods. Grab a cup of hot cocoa, wrap up in your favorite blanket and browse through these delightful snowscapes.

A special thanks to all of those who submitted photos!

How to Stay Safe and Warm During a Winter Power Outage

Power outages are never welcome occasions, but when they occur during cold winter weather they can go from an inconvenience to a safety hazard all too quickly. If you want to stay warm and safe during a winter outage, it’s best to be prepared!

When outages occur, City Light’s response prioritizes life safety first, followed by emergency services and then by repairs which will bring the largest number of customers back into service. In the event of widespread outages, storm damage can take hours to repair and large events can take days. Here are some tips to help you hunker down and stay safe during a winter outage:

  • Have Your Phone Ready – Cordless phones will not work without electricity. Have a corded or cell phone available. If your cell phone is your primary phone, make sure it is charged and you have a phone charger ready. It’s a good idea to keep external batteries charged too.
  • Report the Outage – If you experience an outage, please report it by calling the Seattle City Light Power Outage Hotline at (206) 684-3000. Remember to give us your name, address, phone number and describe any unusual circumstances that could help us identify the problem. You can also visit the Seattle City Light Outage Map to get updates on restoration work, as well as following City Light’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.
  • Stay Away from Downed Power Lines – Downed power lines are extremely dangerous. If you come across any downed lines, do not approach or touch anything in contact with the wire as it could be energized and live. If you see a downed power line, call 911 or (206) 684-3000. You can also report downed power lines by sharing it through City Light’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.
  • Keep Warm and Bundle Up – Try to retain as much heat as possible. Close windows, curtains, unused fireplace dampers, and have blankets ready to conserve body heat. Cold weather is especially hard on infants, children and the elderly. Dress in several layers of lightweight clothing, covering the head, feet and hands.
  • Have Your Emergency Kit/Plan Ready – Prepare an emergency kit if you haven’t already. Some ideas to include are a working flashlight, glow-in-the-dark stick lights, wind-up clock, portable radio, manual can opener and mylar blanket. During a major storm, have a plan for locating family members in case you are not with them. For more information about emergency kits and plans, please visit: www.takewinterbystorm.org.
  • Use Hot Water Sparingly – Most hot water tanks will retain heat for up to 24 to 72 hours.
  • Close Your Refrigerator/Freezer – Keep your fridge and freezer closed as much as possible. A full refrigerator will maintain safe temperatures for up to six to 10 hours; a full freezer up to 2 days. In most cases, food should be safe if refrigerators and freezers remain closed while the power is out. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • Unplug Electrical Appliances – If you experience a prolonged outage, be sure to turn off electrical appliances to prevent fires and equipment damage. Some electrical appliances to consider unplugging before a storm hits are computers and televisions.
  • Be Cautious with Generators and Grills – Use generators with care during a power outage and always use portable generators outside in well-ventilated areas. Never plug a generator into your home circuitry. Instead, plug in appliances directly into the outlets on the generator. When it comes to the grill, do not use barbeques indoors.
  • Be Fire Safe – Do not use candles as a light source nor any open flame as a heat source.
  • Electric Garage Owners – Know how to use the manual override of your electric garage door if your power goes out.
  • Remember Your Pets – Household pets such as cats, dogs, fish and birds may require special care. Contact your veterinarian for more information.
  • Life-Support Customers – If you rely on electric life-support machines, make sure you have emergency power and know how to operate it. Make sure your system has an alarm to alert you if the power goes out.

Winter Weather Advisory: Be Prepared in Case of Power Outages

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for the Seattle area, and it will remain in effect until 9 p.m. tonight.  While storm-related outages are not a sure thing this evening, we want you to be prepared in case they do occur. Seattle City Light customers could experience power outages due to snow-heavy foliage falling into power lines.

If you experience an outage, please report it by calling (206) 684-3000. You can also visit the Seattle City Light Outage Map to get updates on restoration work, as well as following City Light’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Here are some tips to stay safe and warm during an outage:

  • Stay Away from Downed Power Lines – Downed power lines are extremely dangerous. If you come across any downed lines, do not approach or touch anything in contact with the wire as it could be energized and live. If you see a downed power line, call 911 or (206) 684-3000. You can also report downed power lines by sharing it through City Light’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.
  • Be Cautious with Generators and Grills – Use generators with care during a power outage and always use portable generators outside in well-ventilated areas. Never plug a generator into your home circuitry. Instead, plug in appliances directly into the outlets on the generator. When it comes to the grill, do not use barbeques indoors.
  • Keep Warm and Bundle Up – Try to retain as much heat as possible. Close windows, curtains, unused fireplace dampers, and have blankets ready to conserve body heat. Cold weather is especially hard on infants, children and the elderly. Dress in several layers of lightweight clothing, covering the head, feet and hands.
  • Have Your Emergency Kit/Plan Ready – Prepare an emergency kit if you haven’t already. Some ideas to include are a working flashlight, glow-in-the-dark stick lights, wind-up clock, portable radio, manual can opener and mylar blanket. During a major storm, have a plan for locating family members in case you are not with them. For more information about emergency kits and plans, please visit: www.takewinterbystorm.org.
  • Use Hot Water Sparingly – Most hot water tanks will retain heat for up to 24 to 72 hours.
  • Close Your Refrigerator/Freezer – Keep your fridge and freezer closed as much as possible. A full refrigerator will maintain safe temperatures for up to six to 10 hours; a full freezer up to 2 days. In most cases, food should be safe if refrigerators and freezers remain closed while the power is out. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • Unplug Electrical Appliances – If you experience a prolonged outage, be sure to turn off electrical appliances to prevent fires and equipment damage. Some electrical appliances to consider unplugging before a storm hits are computers and televisions.
  • Be Fire Safe – Do not use candles as a light source nor any open flame as a heat source.
  • Have Your Phone Ready – Cordless phones will not work without electricity. Have a corded or cell phone available. If your cell phone is your primary phone, make sure it is charged and you have a phone charger ready.
  • Electric Garage Owners – Know how to use the manual override of your electric garage door if your power goes out.
  • Remember Your Pets – Household pets such as cats, dogs, fish and birds may require special care. Contact your veterinarian for more information.
  • Life-Support Customers – If you rely on electric life-support machines, make sure you have emergency power and know how to operate it. Make sure your system has an alarm to alert you if the power goes out.
  • Report the Outage – If you want to report a power outage, please contact the Seattle City Light Power Outage Hotline at (206) 684-3000. Please remember to give us your name, address, phone number and describe any unusual circumstances that could help us identify the problem.

The Whispering Season

Carkeek Park demonstration garden photo courtesy of Terri Johnson, owner of Plumb Pixel Photography

Written by Deborah Phare, Carkeek Park Steward

Between the closed-fist grip of deep winter and the gentle touch of early spring resides another, much shorter, season. Gardeners are familiar with this brief time of year and respond to its arrival with hope and joy. Its duration is brief – sometimes just three weeks – but its days are filled with the soft green shoots and emerging buds of early perennials and shrubs poking through a mist of soft fog or the crumble-top layer of tired mulch.

In the demonstration gardens at Carkeek Park, few plants are in bloom during this time of year but the gardens’ gifts are on full display. The garden has a large selection of Hellebores and Heucheras, as do most gardens, but above and beyond those important plants there is a full palette of subtle colors and interesting shapes best seen during this short season.

The small, bright yellow buds of Mahonia aquifolium sparkle against shiny, deep green leaves.  When planted in mass, Oregon Grape is a shot of sunlight on a dark winter day. Lucky visitors find delight in the nascent, cheery white pedals of Hepatica acutiloba nestled in our shady woodland bed. Trillium ovatum, Coast or Pacific Trillium, shows the beginnings of a flower tucked inside its protective leaf-coat. Most of the trillium flowers are white, although there are a few deep maroon blooms.

The tiny, round pink buds of Kalmiopsis leachiana “Umpqua Form” compliment the round, compact form of the plant. Some visitors who bend down to inspect this tidy little plant at close range are impressed by the many buds they see, and make a note to return in spring to see the plant in full bloom. They are never disappointed.

Viburnum tinus, Spring Bouquet, offers two rewards for close inspection – shimmering blue berries and small pink buds. Even before the flowers open and their fragrance warms an early spring garden, the berries and buds offer a bright reprieve from the deep gray of winter.

White-flowering Ribes sanguineum buds are beginning to open and create a delicate, cascading presence against the plants’ dark stems.

Carkeek Park demonstration garden photo courtesy of Terri Johnson, owner of Plumb Pixel Photography

Foliage and stem color are on full display during this short time period. Mahonia repens shows its deepest purple, red and maroon in these weeks between winter and spring. It is a rare plant in the Pacific Northwest that sports such dramatic winter color. This Mahonia is especially beautiful when its leaves are dusted with the glitter of frost or dew. Intriguing and confusing to some visitors are the fertile, dark brown fronds of Matteuccia struthiopteris, Ostrich Fern.  Visitors could see these fronds and mutter that the gardener is pretty lax in clean-up. But when the fiddle-heads begin to show through the snow or mulch, it’s obvious that there is a reason these brown fronds remain on the plant.

Leucothoë fontanesiana responds to winter with highlighted reds and greens, and a more pronounced white. Against a background of fog, its spectacular show causes many visitors to steal a moment from their jogging or conversations to stop and appreciate the display.

Seed-heads of perennials that have retired for winter persist with architectural interest and unique beauty. Eutrochium purpureum, common Joe Pye Weed, and Achillea millifolium,yarrow, create a strong vertical presence in a horizontal landscape.

Especially attractive during this season is the combined impact of deep red stems and lustrous green leaves of Vaccinium ovatum, Evergreen Huckleberry. This important plant is used in many beds in the Carkeek gardens and makes an exceptionally attractive addition to each bed.  Gardeners would be hard-pressed to find a family of plants as versatile and hardy for this area.

A contrast among dark colors during this time of year are plants that offer a glimpse of white.  Perovskia atriplicifolia, Russian Sage, displays dusty white/gray stems and an amusing presence as it serpentines its way through the structure of more vertical, traditional plants. As these stems wind through the foliage of evergreen plants they offer the visitor a sharp delineation in color, texture and movement – a welcomed sight throughout the many garden beds of Carkeek. Another plant that brings interest through winter is the native snowberry, Symphoricarpos albus. Birds will often eat the berries. The persistent white berries are a bright sight in the dark of winter.

Last, and always a pleasure to see, is the small beauty of Lewisia cotyledon when its leaves are outlined with frost. This plant’s symmetry is best highlighted when its deciduous neighbors are down for the season, the ground has a thin, sparkling cover of frost and the plant can be seen without its flowers.

It is during this brief time of year that the garden and its inhabitants share with us its most elusive gifts; gentle beauty, delicate color, unique form, and subtle promise.  These quiet gifts, whispered to the person patient enough to listen, are on full display in the Demonstration Gardens of Carkeek Park.

And they are waiting just for you.