High winds leave thousands without power in western Washington


Crews worked quickly Saturday on the arduous task of restoring power to 250,000 to 300,000 customers in western Washington, after high winds left their mark on downed trees and branches that toppled into courtyards, roads and electric wires.

A woman was trapped and seriously injured when a tree fell on his home near Marysville Pilchuck High School on Friday evening. Police and firefighters administered CPR and took the woman, estimated to be in her 20s, to Providence Regional Medical Center.

The Snohomish County PUD reported that more than 190,000 of its customers lost power around midnight Saturday. As of 4 p.m., the PUD website reported significant progress, with the number falling to 100,000 outages.

Utility crews from Oregon and elsewhere in Washington are expected to arrive Saturday evening and take over for exhausted local workers, Snohomish County PUD spokeswoman Kellie Stickney said. She estimated it will be “days, not hours” before full service is restored.

“The damage is extensive,” she said. “It’s our first big storm of the season.”

Minor flooding was in progress on the Snohomish River late Saturday morning, with levels expected to peak soon and fall below flood stage in the evening. The Stillaguamish and Skykomish rivers were already receding, according to Snohomish County Emergency Management.

At 9 a.m., the PUD for Jefferson County on the Olympic Peninsula released an update saying most of the county was still without power and warned that many areas could be cut off for days. The “biggest problem is a transmission line and pole knocked down by a long tree” which knocked out power to two of the county’s electrical substations, an early afternoon tweet from the reported public services district.

The nearby Clallam County PUD also reported major outages, including “several locations with extensive damage, involving multiple poles in some cases.”

Puget Sound Energy before sunrise said more than 100,000 customers were without power in its service areas of King, Thurston, Whatcom, Kitsap and Skagit counties. After 9 a.m. the number had dropped to 80,000, according to PSE, and about an hour later 71,234 would have been without power. The numbers continue to drop by a few thousand per hour. By 1 p.m., the number had fallen below 54,000. By 4 p.m., there were just under 36,000.

In addition to high wind and rain, PSE noted on its website that saturated ground contributed, as is often the case with major outages. Saturated soil can destabilize trees and make them vulnerable to tipping. Trees stressed by summer drought are also more susceptible to damage, Stickney said.

Falling tree branches appear to be responsible for much of the trouble, Stickney added, although at least one utility pole was knocked down. “The tree falls into the post and then it goes down.”

She warned residents to avoid downed power lines and not attempt to clear trees and branches near power lines. “Sometimes there might be a line in those trees, but you don’t know it.”

The Snohomish County PUD reported intermittent issues with its outage map on Saturday morning, leaving residents of dark houses guessing the extent of the problem.

The utility also shared a photo of the damage from the Bothell area and urged people to avoid downed power lines.

The fallout from the gust of wind and the scale of the cleanup became more apparent in daylight. During the night, scattered intersections had been closed because of tree branches or fallen debris.

Some roads remained closed, while others were cleared Saturday morning. US Highway 2 between mile post 38 in Eagle Falls and mile post 50 of the Old Cascade Freeway in Skykomish reopened around 8:30 a.m., after crews worked through the night to clear 25 downed trees, officials said. state transport.

Seattle City Light crews worked Friday night to get neighborhood after neighborhood back online as thousands lost power — but not on the scale of what Snohomish PUD was working on Saturday morning.

Scattered outages are always reported by City Light. For example, the utility said early Saturday that outages in Lake Forest Park and the Echo Lake area were affecting more than 6,800 customers. After 9 a.m., City Light’s online outage map noted fewer than 1,800 customers without service, and the numbers continued to drop, with just 497 affected by early evening.

Among the outages, City Light reported working Friday night through Saturday: 4,800 customers in the Olympic Hills and Lake City areas; nearly 3,700 at View Ridge and Wedgwood; 6,700 in North Capitol Hill and Eastlake; and 13,800 at Rainier Beach, Dunlap, Lake Ridge and Skyway.

The National Weather Service says winds peaked Friday evening, with gusts of more than 50 mph along parts of Juan de Fuca Strait.

The Washington State Department of Transportation reported snow and high winds at Blewett, White and Stevens passes Saturday morning, while Snoqualmie Pass received a mix of rain and snow. The state closed Interstate 90 on either side of Snoqualmie Pass Saturday after multiple crashes.

The weather service says the heaviest rains are over, but conditions will remain cool and rainy through the weekend with snow in the mountains. Snow levels on Saturday will be around 2,000 feet.

Flood watches remain in effect through Saturday afternoon across much of western Washington. The headwaters of most major streams peaked overnight or were expected to peak Saturday morning. By Saturday evening, the weather service says all rivers should recede.

CORRECTION: The Snohomish River was misidentified in an early version of this story.

Seattle Times staff reporters Sandi Doughton, Dahlia Bazzaz and Lauren Girgis contributed to this report.

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