SUNNYSIDE — The Feb. 8 blizzard that swept through the Yakima Valley, killing thousands of livestock is still causing grief for many area farmers.
As the weather has turned to spring and the demand for cooling and irrigation needs have increased, farmers have discovered their water pumps and other machinery was also disabled as a result of the snow and freezing temperatures.
Sunnyside dairyman Jason Sheehan of J&K Dairy said, while it took about six weeks to get his operation back to normal, he hadn’t counted on the damage to his cooling and heating systems, a situation that was discovered within days of the end of the storm.
Damage to the irrigation pumps was discovered as his spring field work got underway, he explained.
The wind-blown snow was packed into the housing of the several pumps disabling them, Sheehan said.
Local pump repair and electrical companies reported the weather-related issues from area farmers have kept them busy in the past few months.
A Davis Pump spokesman said its company’s crews had done a lot work for area dairymen who required pump repairs due to the harsh weather.
“They worked on a lot of our motors that were ‘just fried’ as a result of the weather,” Sheehan explained.
The blizzard caught farmers unaware on many fronts. Within 16 hours, more than 1,800 dairy cows were lost to the subzero conditions. Gov. Jay Inslee announced a state of emergency in March, making many of the farms across the state eligible for emergency funding.
“It’s just hard to believe we are still finding issues related to the storm,” Sheehan commented.