Winds topple trees, knock out power to thousands


by KING 5 News and Wire Reports

Posted on November 19, 2009 at 8:19 AM

Updated Thursday, Nov 19 at 1:07 PM

SEATTLE - Fierce winds and heavy rain pushed through Western Washington overnight Wednesday, leaving thousands without power and a mess for crews to clean-up Thursday morning.

National Weather Service forecaster Jay Albrecht says Washington's north coast saw the strongest winds Wednesday night, with gusts just off Olympic National Park measured at 66 mph and a peak gust of 81 mph. In the northwest interior, Cherry Point near Ferndale had a 64 mph gust and Friday Harbor in the San Juans got a 58 mph blast.

Close to 10,000 Clallum County PUD customers were still without power Thursday after a transmission line went down near Port Angeles.

Puget Sound Energy crews were finishing up restoring power to a few scattered outages throughout the region. At the height of the outages, about 3,000 PSE customers lost electricity. Fewer than 1,000 customers remain without power, the majority of them in Thurston County.

PSE crews are resting up for weather predicted Thursday evening and Friday. Additional crews are being brought in anticipation of the storm.

Another 4,300 lost power in Grays Harbor County and Mason County PUD reports about 1,800 customers without  power. A few scattered outages were reported in the San Juan Islands. Seattle City Light reports about 76 remaining power outages in the Shoreline area.

In the Shoreline area, a half a dozen crews were working to clear up mangled power lines after gusty winds toppled a large tree on Meridian Avenue near 203rd Wednesday evening.  An 82-year-old woman driving a Toyota Camry narrowly escaped with her life.

"The high-tension wires did break the fall of the tree, but it did collide with the passenger side of the vehicle," says Sgt. Chad Devore with Shoreline Police.

Fortunately, the only thing damaged besides the power lines and the woman's car were her nerves. About 200 customers in the Shoreline area lost electricity; power has been restored to about half of those customers.

A tree that fell in the early morning darkness west of Longview not only caused a power outage but also led to a log truck crash that blocked both lanes of an area road for about four hours.
Cowlitz Public Utility District spokesman Dave Andrew said the tree took down power lines at 2:40 a.m. Wednesday, interrupting electric service to nearly 1,500 customers for about three hours.
A log truck crashed into the fallen tree, blocking both lanes of the highway for about four hours before the road was cleared at about 6:30 a.m.
The Washington State Patrol tells The Daily News of Longview that the truck driver was unhurt.

Port Townsend-Keystone ferry route canceled

Commuters who take the Port Townsend-Keystone ferry route may need to make a change of plans. Starting at 3:45 p.m. Thursday, sailings on the Port Townsend-Keystone route are canceled because of high winds and heavy seas.

The Department of Transportation says alternate routes will be through the Edmonds-Kingston and Mukilteo-Clinton runs.