Snow, Extreme Cold & Serious Winds Have Major Impact On Burien Area (2010)

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The combination of Monday’s snow followed by extremely low temps (our thermometer showed a low of 20 F overnight) with the knockout punch of some serious winds had a major impact on the Burien area, damaging waterfront homes, closing schools, plunging residents into darkness and much more.

(People like to name major storms, and since it started on Nov. 22nd, we’re proposing we call it the JFK Assassination Anniversary Storm. Others have tagged it snOMG. We’ll let you decide.)

We know there are many other problems in the area (email us pics and/or a blurb if you know of any), but here are some of the things we noticed:

  • The combination of the wind and high tides took a major toll on waterfront homes on the north beaches of Three Tree Point. BTB Reader Kumi sent us this email:

I live on the water and this is the worst storm damage since 1990. We are talking about failed bulkheads, massive erosion, and debris everywhere. My neighbors 100-foot long seawall is leaning over, sewer pipes broken open, and the waves are still pounding away.  Besides the inflated property taxes there is always an extra price to pay living on the front lines of nature.  A neighbor friend of ours down the beach just had their windows professionally cleaned a few days ago, now they look like they are covered in sea snot.  Got to love mother nature.

  • Three Tree Point residents Dane Johnson and Kathy Justin, known for spearheading the Burien Interim Art Space project and more (read about them here), had their house red-tagged due to the storm. Tuesday morning several friends, neighbors and strangers who read our call for help showed up to help haul their valuables out of the house, which is leaning towards the water (see Scott Schaefer’s pics below).
  • Highline School District closed all their schools Tuesday, after first announcing a two-hour delay late Monday afternoon.
  • Power went out in various parts of B-Town, with a major outage in the Three Tree Point neighborhood. At the satellite home office of the blog, we lost power just after 6pm Monday night, and didn’t get it back until around 8am Tuesday morning. This meant a night of burning firewood we so wisely bought last week, warm layers, lots of cuddling with the kids, and re-awakenings to re-stoke the fire. All in all we survived interior temps that dropped to 50 (we’re in an older house), and were ever-so-thankful when the lights went back on.
  • Highline Community College closed its campus as well Tuesday.
  • Metro Transit released a statement “urging people to stay home and off the roads if at all possible. Road conditions are dangerously icy, and abandoned vehicles still block roadways. About 14 Metro bus routes have been canceled this morning due to the travel conditions.” Just before Noon Tuesday they released this statement (more info here):

Route 121 and 131 are not operating on 1 Av S between SW 156 St & Marine View Dr in both directions. Use stops along Des Moines Memorial Dr or 8 Av S. Routes 121 & 131 are instead continuing eastbound on S 156 St,  southbound on Des Moines Memorial Dr, southbound on 8 Av S. eastbound on S 200 St, southbound on Desmoines Way Dr to its regular snow route  – Same route in reverse direction.  This is in addition to other reroutes that these two routes are on. Metro encourages anyone who can to avoid travel on Tuesday until conditions improve and jurisdictions can clear streets.  Thank you for your patience and for using Metro’s services. Travel safely.

  • The Weather Service is predicting an overnight low of just 14 degrees Tuesday night. This is two degrees lower than the all-time record for the day of 16, set in 1985. The lowest recorded temperature on any date in Seattle was 0 degrees, on January 30, 1951.

Here are some pics of the storm damage that we’ve managed to find so far (again, email us yours if you have any):

Photo of damage to the waterfront of the north beach at Three Tree Point by Hal Middleton.

Photo of damage to the waterfront of the north beach at Three Tree Point by Hal Middleton.

Photo of damage to the waterfront of the north beach at Three Tree Point by Hal Middleton.

The City of Burien red-tagged Dane Johnson & Kathy Justin's home early Tuesday morning.

You can see why – the foundation of the house has slipped and it's leaning toward the water.

Apparently the rough seas eroded underneath the house, weakening the foundation.

Closeup view of the main entryway shows the damage done to the foundation by the storm.

An even closer view shows the gap between the house and foundation.

The view from the beach shows just how beat up the house was from Monday night's storm.

Photos by Scott Schaefer

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21 Responses to “Snow, Extreme Cold & Serious Winds Have Major Impact On Burien Area (2010)”
  1. Cold Weather Guy says:

    Seems like Burien should require the houses be farther back from the beach

    • yuckfoo says:

      This why you let people rebuild they’re bulkheads without so much red tape. Also a reason you do not let bulkheads go back to natural as the ridiculous Burien city council wanted to do, especially when there’s established homes built there.

      • Coverofnight says:

        I agree, yuckfoo (great name, too)!

        • yuckfoo says:

          Thank you on both coverofnight.

          • Harvey Mushman says:

            Um, Golly.

            A. Serve’s ’em right for building there (Liberal Ecoweeny)

            B. Shoud have made it easier to get around damn laws and inspections to remedy. ( Bull-Moose Party)

            Get off it! This is entitled Boomer-land, how dare they complain…waging such dogma!
            Help these folks out if you can and get off your pulpit. We’re all in this together.


      • Lee Moyer says:

        This bulkhead, like almost all of the others in Burien, was built before Burien was a city and before we knew much about how a shoreline works. We can continue to respect their “property rights” and watch the process of each land owner rebuilding bigger and better bulkheads that continue to fall down. As long as the total cost is covered by the property owners, that is all right with me (even though the environmental damage affects us all).. However, it isn’t the only option.

        Three Tree Point is an example of a naturally occuring system where the drift of sand and gravel goes along the beach toward the point on both sides of the point. This drift rebuilds the point as it erodes into deep water. The source of this drift is typically an unstable feeder bluff (examples can be seen at Seahurst Park and Eagle Landing Park). Of course, bulkheading interferes with this process. The result is a net erosion of the beach, which undercuts the bulkheads. Solid structures extending down the beach (boat ramps, protruding bulkheads, etc) tend to deflect the drifting sand and gravel into deep water and further indcrease the erosion and lowering of the overall beach level. Without coordination (red tape, to some), this system is unmanageable.

        With coordination, our shoreline can be managed to everyone’s benefit. It is not feasible to go to a natural system (remove a lot of the bulkheads) and allow the feeder bluffs to erode as they should. However, we could mimic nature for less overall cost than the current system of rebuilding whatever is falling down.

        One possible solution could be a two step process. First build up all the beaches to a more natural level. This would involve a lot of the appropriate fill but certainly be easier for each land owner than rebuilding his bulkhead. Since this is only a temporary fix, the next step is to acquire strategic “feeder lots” where sand and gravel are regularly dumped and allowed to erode and resupply the beaches downstream. This would require regular dumping and cost.

        The cost of the could be covered in two ways: One, the waterfront land owners could form a local improvement district and tax themselves. Another, the City of Burien could cover the costs in exchange for the “feeder lots” becomming publlic access and for the public being allowed access to the beaches which they are paying for to recreate.

        There are other solutions, but just making bigger bulkheads that fall harder is not one of them.

        • Bucky says:

          That is excellent info, Lee Moyer. I hope the B-Town Blog picks up this story and does some more development on it. I would love to see/hear/read more about your thoughts, and see those in the public media sphere.

          Thoughtful, intelligent, and practical information that connects the causes, effects, and solutions together. If only the news presented stories as well as you did!

  2. Reader says:

    That’s a lot of help Cold Weather Guy. That house has been there a long time. Send out some good wishes for the residents.

    And be thankful this week.

  3. RRR says:

    My heart goes out to anyone in dire straits today. For there but for the Grace of God go any one of us – nature is not picky as to whether you live near the water or not. Many downed power lines crippled homeowners – many of the struggling to hang on to their homes and without jobs. I am grateful that THIS time, my power stayed on, thereby giving us heat, that I have a 4wd suburban (though old – it runs!) that can get us anywhere, my family is safe, and that God protected our home from the raging elements and falling trees. I open my heart and my arms today for those who have it much worse than I. May God Bless you all beyond measure! Many Blessings, RRR

    • Diana says:

      RRR, you said it all! Remember, if you had a roof over your head last night, no matter how cold you were, there were homeless people out there trying to just survive the night. Be grateful for what you have and show some compassion and respect for those who are with out. this is the holidays. The time for showing gratitude, respect and love to people who really need it. This economy, this weather, Just shows us we need to band together as a brother hood to help each other more than ever. To my friends out there, I say Blessing to you and your family.

    • KaiJ says:

      Wow that sure is a lot of god credit. To bad the all powerful doesn’t just spare his terrarium the turmoil in the first place?

      Mother Nature and The Discovery channel rock.

  4. jan says:

    Mr. Editor: When the power came on at our place at 8:40 am, i checked out the thermostat. It was 45 degrees!. We have an older house as well, but it faces south towards the sound! thoughts are w/ Dane and Kathy and anyone else w/o a home or power.

  5. Maureen says:

    For anyone interested in helping Kathy and Dane with the financial burdens of this loss, there has been a Facebook page set up which has links to a “disaster fund” accepting donations.

  6. rainycity says:

    The discover channel for a false idol?..To each their own…hehehe.
    KaiJ, God doesn`t cause the bad, he`s there to comfort after, but at any rate,
    I cooked up a huge pot of chicken soup yesterday and just left it on the wood stove all day along with a couple of tea kettles of hot water so when somebody came over or the neighborhood kids popped in with my daughter after sledding, it was there. Not sure (how much hot chocolate we went through) that was the war maids job,,*lol*
    I`m thinking tonight maybe I should make up another one along with a pot of beef and barley and grab the rats and head down and give it to them poor folks trying to stay warm out there who can`t find shelter and some hot food.
    Anybody know where a good place is in Burien where we might start? If not, I guess head down towards Pioneer square?

  7. Rainycity says:

    Really?,The Burien parking garage? Okay, we`ll try there,, Thank you Pauline.

    • Pauline says:

      Yeah, it’s got locked gates but I’ve heard people have found a way get in there at night anyway and I suspect with this weather they will be trying even harder to get in. It’s a good place to start.

  8. joan m johnson says:

    It is interesting how the beach changes after a storm disaster. Before the BIG one of 91,
    the beach in front of our home had many large rocks loaded with muscles and barnacles,from which I would harvest a couple daily and feed to my cat who suffered from not enough tannin in her diet. We enjoyed feeding ducks regularly and watching the surf skooters (sp) all the time. Cormorants were also common on the beach.

    After the storm, no big,no cormorants, no muscles, no surf scooters and no ducks. Everything changed, including our bank account after paying for our new bulkhead:) But we are more than thankful to God that the entire beach escaped with no residential loss. Vashon and Bainbridge didn’t fareas well, nor did the San Juan Islands. The winds were more severe than the other night, believe it or not, and it was about 10 degrees outside while we were fighting to save our homes. We filled many sandbags and poured tons of big rocks behind the seawall the morning after it happened. There was no 3tp e-mail at the time, but about a dozen people from work and our kids came to help, and by the end of the day all these rocks were in place and we felt safe again. I filled sandbags, but mostly I prepared a huge pasta dinner, hot chocolate and coffee for our relentless helpers. It was an amazing effort for which we are still grateful.

    ……………………….God is Good!

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