Thousands lose power as winds topple trees

Nearly 2 inches of rain fall in Olympia area, with more on the way

rboone@theolympian.comNovember 20, 2012 

Gusty winds toppled trees and knocked tree limbs onto power lines Monday, resulting in scattered power outages throughout Thurston County that affected several thousand Puget Sound Energy customers.

About noon Monday, 7,500 PSE customers were without power. The number of outages was reduced to about 3,600 by 3 p.m., spokeswoman MacKenzie McDowell said.

Students at Rainier Middle School and Rainier High School were sent home early Monday after both schools lost power.

Power outages were triggered by a fall storm that brought heavy rain and gusty winds to Western Washington, resulting in rainfall of more than 2 inches in some areas.

Nearly two inches of rain had fallen in the Olympia area Monday, according to the National Weather Service. Rainfall was expected to ease Monday evening, although more rain and wind is in the forecast for today and the rest of the week. Daytime temperatures are expected to be in the upper 40s to lower 50s.

Flood and wind warnings also were in effect Monday.

Meanwhile, the Washington State Patrol said it responded to 20 vehicle accidents Monday in Thurston and Pierce counties, and Thurston County Public Works reminded residents to clear storm drains to prevent urban flooding. Drivers are cautioned not to drive through standing water.

“The air intake on many cars is low at the front of the car,” county officials said in a news release. “Just a cup of water sucked into the combustion chamber can wreck an engine.”

Thurston County Emergency Management also said residents should not call 911 to report power outages.

“We want to remind people that 911 is for life-threatening emergencies, but that a simple power outage at your house should be reported to Puget Sound Energy,” Thurston County Emergency Management Division manager Kathy Estes said in a statement.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 rboone@theolympian.com

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