Snow blankets region, but officials report few headaches — so far

January 17, 2012

Snow blanketed Issaquah and the Puget Sound region Jan. 15 and 16, as officials and residents prepared for more challenging conditions in the days ahead.

The potential for more snow — plus flooding as the snow melted — reminded emergency planners to gird for harsh La Niña conditions, albeit later in the season than expected.

“It’s going to be pretty messy in the next couple of days,” said Johnny Burg, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Seattle. “People should just pay attention to the forecast.”

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La Niña vs. tomatoes

January 10, 2012

With La Niña we don’t know what is normal anymore. We used to be able to predict the weather around here.

In January, we expected our lowest temperatures — maybe even icy ponds. We used to get a break for two weeks in February, which would give us the false idea that spring would come early, and also the opportunity to prune roses and fruit trees. We expected showers and sun breaks in March and April and started seeds indoors. Then May would bring the first warm days, and we prepared our soil. June was never stable; we always had warmth and rain, perfect for planting warm-weather veggies.

The rain always lasted through the Fourth of July, dousing the fireworks fantasies. On the fifth came the sun and it would stick around until October. The veggies grew big and produced. Octobers were clear and cold as the last of the edible crops were brought in. Then on Halloween, the rain would come, dousing the kids again. Those rains would last until year’s end, falling sometimes as wet snow. We planned on it every year.

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Hayes Nursery, longtime local business, to close

November 29, 2011

The entrance to Hayes Nursery below Tiger Mountain was recently renovated. By Greg Farrar

Hayes Nursery, a destination for springtime shrubs and sage gardening advice, plans to close by late December, after rain-sodden summers and a feeble economy hurt the longtime local business.

Clare and Larry Hayes opened the nursery along Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast in time for Mother’s Day 1987 and expanded the business throughout the decades.

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High winds lead to power outages for some Issaquah customers

November 22, 2011

NEW — 9 a.m. Nov. 22, 2011

High winds led to power outages in Talus and other Issaquah neighborhoods Tuesday morning, as a system delivered soggy, blustery conditions to the region.

Puget Sound Energy said scattered outages started overnight in the Cascade foothills and North Puget Sound — “fairly small in terms of the number of customers, but they’re at many locations,” PSE spokeswoman Dorothy Bracken said.

The utility could not yet estimate how many local customers experienced outages.

“The winds are subsiding, and our crews are making good headway and we’re not seeing new outages occur,” she said Tuesday morning.

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Issaquah residents urged to prepare amid King County flood watch

November 21, 2011

NEW — 5 p.m. Nov. 21, 2011

King County is under a flood watch as a precipitation-laden system barrels into Western Washington, and Issaquah residents should prepare for localized flooding as rain and wind pelt the area.

The flood watch is in effect until through late Wednesday night. Expect 2 to 4 inches of rainfall Monday night and Tuesday as the snow level rises to about 6,000 feet, and then another 1 to 3 inches Tuesday night and Wednesday as the snow level gradually dips to about 3,000 feet.

National Weather Service meteorologists in Seattle said any flooding related to the system is expected to be minor.

In addition, a wind advisory is in effect through noon Tuesday.

Bret Heath, city Public Works Operations and emergency management director, said leaves dislodged from trees by rain and wind could also clog storm drains and lead to flooding along city streets.

Issaquah Creek flooding is not expected to pose a major problem in the days ahead.

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City Council hikes water rate 9 percent to offset conservation-related decline

November 15, 2011

Issaquah customers should start paying more for water soon, after city leaders increased rates to offset conservation-related declines in usage.

In a unanimous decision Nov. 7, City Council members OK’d a 9 percent increase in the municipal water rate. The average residential customer should pay about $3 more per month after the updated water rate goes into effect Dec. 1.

“What we end up paying and the revenues that the city brings in are due to reductions in revenue and usage,” Councilman Joshua Schaer said before the decision. “I find it interestingly perverse that the more we conserve, the more we have to pay.”

The council, although reluctant to increase the rate, said the increase is essential to shore up funding for the municipal water utility. The city provides water to more than 6,500 businesses and homes.

“This will keep our water fund — maybe not as healthy as it could be — but certainly from dipping below zero,” Schaer said.

Officials initially proposed a 10 percent rate increase to replace aging pump stations and water mains, address increased operating costs related to increased charges from Cascade Water Alliance and provide debt service coverage required in bond agreements. Council Utilities, Technology & Environment Committee members reduced the proposed increase to 9 percent.

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King County road crews prepare for wintry conditions

November 15, 2011

NEW — 10:40 a.m. Nov. 15, 2011

La Niña is in the long-term forecast, temperatures continue to fall and the King County Road Services Division is urging motorists to prepare for driving in wintry conditions.

The agency faces a challenge in the months ahead due to budget cuts.

Because wintry conditions can start earlier at higher elevations, county road crews topped off salt and sand stockpiles of salt and sand to be ready. The latest forecast indicates ice and snow could start any day now.

The county roads division has 17,700 cubic yards of sand, 270 cubic yards of salt and 21,000 gallons of anti-icing material stockpiled at 10 field offices throughout the county. The agency also has equipment ready to combat snow and ice.

If a significant snowstorm blasts the region, officials place crews on 12-hour shifts to provide around-the-clock response on roads in unincorporated areas.

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Gardeners: Prepare to endure another La Niña winter

October 18, 2011

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, Jeff Renner tells us we are in for another La Niña.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not moping around, crazy mad about the weather. Every little ray of sunshine and every little tinge of warmth have been appreciated to the max by me.

But still, I’m unable to come to grips with the big picture. The issue of global climate change is huge, impacting much more than just gardening, making it hard to comprehend.

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Surprise! More snow falls in Issaquah

April 19, 2011

More spring snowfall dusted higher-elevation neighborhoods in Issaquah and the surrounding area April 18.

Issaquah Highlands residents reported some late-morning snowfall as rain turned to snow.

The region continues to experience below-normal temperatures for early spring. High temperatures usually reach the mid to upper 50s in early April.

Snowfall also blanketed Issaquah and surrounding areas — especially neighborhoods in the highlands and on Cougar, Squak and Tiger mountains — late April 6 and early April 7. Surprised residents reported about 1 inch of snow accumulation in some places.

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Surprising spring snow dusts city in white

April 12, 2011

Snowfall blanketed the Overdale Park neighborhood in Issaquah late April 7. By Larry Lohrman

Sure, spring started last month, but Old Man Winter returned last week.

Snowfall blanketed Issaquah and surrounding areas — especially neighborhoods in the Issaquah Highlands and on Cougar, Squak and Tiger mountains — late April 6 and early April 7. Surprised residents reported about 1 inch of snow accumulation in some places.

“We’re disappointed by the weather every April — and that can actually last into June, our disappointment with the weather,” said Chris Burke, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Seattle.

Roads remained clear for the April 7 morning commute, although the rain-soaked ground resulting from the increased precipitation snarled Issaquah-area traffic.

Crews cleared a fallen tree from Issaquah-Hobart Road Southeast near Issaquah at about 8 a.m., after the large maple clogged traffic and forced motorists to detour.

King County Sheriff’s Office deputies directed traffic. Crews cleared enough of the tree to reopen the road just after 9 a.m. and then remained on the scene to continue the cleanup Read more

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