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New Year's storm brought fewer problems than expected for Bonney Lake vicinity

Puget Sound Energy dredged the ice and snow from the flume after the New Year
Puget Sound Energy dredged the ice and snow from the flume after the New Year's storm. Photo by Dennis Box.
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By Dennis Box, The Courier-Herald

The New Year's snowstorm of 2004 has passed, leaving a few mounds of snow and many people comparing it to the last big storm of 1996 or previous snow whoppers that remain in the community memory.

The final front of the storm hit in the early morning hours of Jan. 6 dumping six to 10 inches on Bonney Lake and the surrounding Pierce County area. By noon Mayor Bob Young closed city hall, canceled the scheduled workshop for that evening and everyone except police, firefighters and road crews headed for a warm house to wait out the snow.

The thaw finally started the following day as temperatures steadily rose to well above 40 degrees and rain began turning the snow and ice into slippery, sloppy slush.

Bonney Lake

Police Department

Bonney Lake Police Chief Bryan Jeter stated the city came out of the storm in good shape with relatively few problems.

"Overall the citizens did a good job of paying attention," Jeter said. "It went much better than it could have been considering the amount of snow and ice on the road. There were no serious injuries, we generally came away good."

One of the more serious incidents was a six-car accident at state Route 410 and Myers Road on Jan. 3 during an earlier round with the storm. "Our city road crew did a great job helping in that accident," Jeter said. "They stayed in constant contact with the officers until they could reach the scene. They really helped."

No serious injuries were reported from the accident.

SR 410 was closed that night for about six hours. It was only the second time in 15 years the road has been closed.

Jeter noted a few tips for people to keep in mind during snow storms:

€ Don't abandon your car and leave it running. It makes it very easy to steal.

€ Keep food and water and emergency supplies in case your car gets stuck in the snow.

€ Four-wheel drive doesn't mean you can stop any quicker. People in four-wheel drive vehicles often think they are invincible; they are not.

€ To find out about road closures and conditions call 800-695-road. Local police departments don't necessarily know all the highway condition information and switchboards get overwhelmed with calls about roads during a storm.

East Pierce Fire and Rescue

On Jan. 6 at 1:17 p.m. a man riding a six-wheel all-terrain vehicle fell through a hole in the ice covering Lake Tapps. A rescue team from East Pierce Fire and Rescue was able to safely get the man, and his ATV, to the shore.

"He hit a soft spot in the ice and broke through," Assistant Chief John McDonald said. "It was one of those ATV's that floats so he was safe as long as he was on it. When we arrived he had started to walk across the ice and we directed him to get back on the ATV. Two divers in dry suits with an inflatable boat walked out to him and put a floatation device on him."

According to McDonald the rescuers thought they would have to leave the ATV on the lake because of the danger involved with trying to bring it to shore.

"But we were able to rig a rope on it and pull it out of the hole back onto the ice. After that the man was able to drive it off the ice."

The man, in his early 40s, was cold and embarrassed, but otherwise he and his ATV were fine.

McDonald stated, "People need to understand it takes more than a couple of days for ice of sufficient strength to form. Ice should be at least two inches thick to walk on."

Flume overflows

Puget Sound Energy reported that its flume, which feeds Lake Tapps, filled with ice and snow on Tuesday causing the company to close its headwaters at the diversion dam.

PSE personnel noted the frozen area on Tuesday morning. "The water that was flowing went over the ice and topped over onto the access road washing some of the shoulder away," PSE spokesman Roger Thompson said.

Crews began dredging the ice and snow out of the flume on Wednesday and by Thursday PSE had started diverting water again.

Thompson also noted that a new all-time gas consumption record for the 636,000 PSE customers was set on Jan. 4. During that 24-hour period of frigid temperatures 716,000 million British thermal units of gas were consumed. The old record was 678,000 million BTU's set on Dec. 21, 1998.

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