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Jolts, bolts, lack of volts; unforgettable Friday the 13th
By Steve Wehrly/Journal reporter
Friday the 13th was a bad day for one tree on Lopez, and Lopez Fire Chief Jim Ghiglione didn’t get much sleep that night.
But camera buffs and sky watchers were treated to a rare light show from back-to-back nights of thunder and lightning over the San Juans.
The exploded tree and a small fire on Turtleback Mountain on Orcas were the only major problems caused by two electrical storms that filled the skies with an untold number of lightning bolts that struck before dawn Friday to early Saturday morning. Some 10,500 households and businesses were without power across the county, although many turned to backup generators, public safety and community service facilities in particular, to keep the power on.
Checking Lopez generators, especially those at the medical clinic and pharmacy, where vaccines and other medicines are stored, kept Ghiglione up until power was restored. “That’s just part of my job,” said Ghiglione — although he said he would have preferred not having to respond to an aid call at 5 a.m. the same morning.
The “big one” occurred at 8:46 p.m. Friday at Puget Sound Energy’s Burrows Bay substation on Fidalgo Island, reportedly from a lightning strike near the substation, which transmits all the power for the San Juans.
According to Orcas Power and Light Cooperative, power was restored at 2:50 a.m. Saturday, just about the time the lightning stopped.
Two other outages occurred Friday evening and again Saturday morning in the Cape San Juan area, both apparently the result of one lightning strike on a home in the area.
A memorable weekend, perhaps, but presumably no ruined vacations.