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Rain And Wind Bring Back Memories Of Hanukkah Storm

caption: Infrared satellite image of Hanukkah Storm from December 15, 2006.
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Infrared satellite image of Hanukkah Storm from December 15, 2006.
US Naval Research Laboratory

It was eight years ago this weekend that a massive storm brought deadly rain and wind to the Pacific Northwest, disrupting the holidays and leaving tens of thousands in the dark and cold.

On Thursday, December 14, 2006, the busy holiday season was in full swing. Christmas Eve was 10 days away, and it was the night before Hanukkah. In SODO, the Seahawks were hosting the San Francisco 49ers in a late season match-up.

The weather forecast called for high winds that night, but it was the rain that struck first, fouling the afternoon commute. Traffic backed up everywhere, and down at what was then called Qwest Field, the turf was suddenly flooded. With kickoff less than an hour away, KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson was at the stadium and on the mic for the pre-game show when the bad weather knocked the station off the air.

The massive downpour that took KIRO off the air and delayed the start of the Seahawks game did far more serious damage elsewhere. A Madison Valley resident was trapped in her flooded basement and drowned. Then, the wind picked up, and the saturated ground meant fallen trees, blocked roads and downed power lines around the region.

The 520 floating bridge across Lake Washington was shut down to traffic. Authorities opened the draw span to relieve pressure on the aging concrete structure.

It was stormy all over the Pacific Northwest, from British Columbia down into Oregon. The December 2006 storm ultimately left 15 people dead and more than a million without electricity, as temperatures dropped below freezing.

Hundreds of thousands were without power for several days, and many had to move to hotels and shelters. The storm caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage, and Governor Christine Gregoire declared a state of emergency in western Washington.

The storm was of historic proportions, and it needed a name. The National Weather Service in Seattle sponsored a contest. The public submitted 8,000 suggestions, and it wasn’t until March 2007 that the winner was declared. From then on, it was known as the Hanukkah Eve Storm.

And as for the Seahawks, they had a pretty stormy Hanukkah Eve, too. The final score was Seahawks 14, the San Francisco 49ers 24.

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