Wind knocks out power across Western Washington

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on November 15, 2010 at 7:37 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 16 at 6:54 PM

SEATTLE -- Wind blustered across Washington State Monday night and early Tuesday morning, turning the trees that still have leaves on them into sails, knocking them into power lines and putting hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in the dark.

Communities all across the region - from Whidbey Island down to South Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula - reported outages. At its worst, more than 200,000 customers were without power around the Puget Sound. Pierce County was among the hardest hit. For some, power won't be back on until Wednesday.

As of 2:30 p.m. the following outages were reported:

Tacoma Power: 1,000 customers, down from 54,000 Monday night

Puget Sound Energy: Power restored to 60,000 customers; 80,000 customers still without power

Seattle City Light: Power restored to most of the 18,000 customers without electricity.

Snohomish PUD: 7,500 customers, down from about 20,000

Peninsula Light Co.: 80 percent of its customers in Gig Harbor and the Key Peninsula (about 5,600 in the Gig Harbor area)

Grays Harbor PUD: All power has been restored to some 500 customers in the Oakville area.

Mason County PUD: All power has been restored to some 400 customers

At the Port of Tacoma, crews are busy straightening out dozens of cargo contains. Gusty winds around 40 mph blew down the containers, creating a domino effect as one crate fell over on top of another. No injuries or damage was reported. Officials say its not unusual for shipping containers to blow over during a wind storm.

At the Tacoma Narrows Marina, the high winds were strong enough to lift a 50-foot sheet metal boat house and toss it toward nearby homes.

"I tried to hold that thing back for about an hour, getting nowhere. I got some help from these folks. I called my neighbor and everyone gathered. We tried to do what we could with it but it was very, very scary," said  homeowner Dave Harkness. "We're still unnerved because it's hooked up underneath the house, into my pilings. I think the tide's coming up. Keeping our fingers crossed and prayers going."

The sound of the wind unnerved many of the residents.

"It's pretty scary though it's come down a substantial amount," said Chris Fernandez. "But, the noise was horrific, we couldn't even talk. It was just horrific."

The Tacoma Fire Department responded to several emergency calls, including power lines down on a house and three cars hit by trees. The Tacoma 911 system also lost power and was put on a backup generator, but 911 service was not affected.

A tree came down in front of Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, blocking the entrance. The hospital was put on backup generators.

Falling trees temporarily blocked some highways Monday, including Highway 20 in Skagit County, and Highway 508 in Lewis County. Highway 12 was blocked Tuesday morning near Pomeroy by downed power lines.

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Around the start of the evening commute Monday, winds caused waves to crash onto the side of the SR 520 bridge in Montlake, causing major traffic backups coming on and off the bridge. Wind also brought a tree down onto a Mercer Island home and caused scaffolding to topple against a Phinney Ridge building on Phinney Avenue North.

In Eastern Washington, a wind advisory has been issued from 7 p.m. to 10 a.m. Tuesday morning. Steady winds are expected around 30 miles per hour, with gusts reaching 45 miles per hour at times.

Rain and more wind are expected for the remainder of the week in Western Washington. However, snow levels are expected to drop in the mountains, possibly as low as 500 feet by Thursday.

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