Windstorm cuts power to 1,500 Thurston PSE customers

rboone@theolympian.comNovember 2, 2013 

Thurston County didn’t escape Saturday’s windstorm, but the number of people who lost power was far fewer than in other areas around Puget Sound.

By about 3:30 p.m., gusty winds had knocked out power to 1,500 Puget Sound Energy customers in the county, spokesman Ray Lane said, adding that most of the outages were in north King County with about 60,000 customers affected there.

In total, Saturday’s windstorm knocked out power to about 105,000 customers throughout the Puget Sound Energy service area, he said.

Mason County Public Utility District No. 3 was busy, too, restoring power to an estimated 5,300 customers who were without power before noon Saturday, according to a news release.

Seattle City Light had another 40,000 customers impacted. Those numbers were dwindling Saturday as winds eased and crews worked to restore service.

“Troopers are busy running around to collision and debris calls,” Washington State Patrol trooper Guy Gill posted to Twitter. “Lots of big branches and trees down on our rural state routes.”

The Olympia area experienced peak winds of 40 miles per hour about 1 p.m. Saturday, with the highest sustained wind in the area reaching 28 mph, said Johnny Burg of the National Weather Service. Wind speeds throughout the day were in the mid- to upper-20s, he said.

A wind advisory for the Olympia area was in effect until 8 p.m. Saturday.

The early part of the work week is expected to be wet, and there’s a chance of more windy weather late Wednesday and early Thursday, Burg said.

Around the state, high winds temporarily closed the state Route 520 bridge across Lake Washington. State trooper Chris Webb said drivers in about 50 cars abandoned their vehicles on the bridge for a period of time. Troopers eventually escorted people back to their vehicles.

Elsewhere, a man from Granite Falls was taken to the hospital with serious injuries after a tree fell on his vehicle near Monroe, authorities said.

The National Weather Service had issued a wind warning for part of Saturday covering coastal areas in Washington and Oregon, forecasting wind gusts up to 65 mph. Slightly weaker winds were expected near Seattle to the mountains. Equipment on Destruction Island off the Washington coast recorded a peak gust of 72 mph Saturday morning, Burg said.

“We’re getting some pretty good winds, but nothing catastrophic right now,” Burg said. “We’re not looking for any big, widespread destruction.”

Burg said forecasters had been watching for a slight risk of flooding, but they don’t expect that to be an issue anymore. About half an inch of rain was expected at lower elevations.

As the storm moves through, elevations above 2,500 feet were expected to get more than half an inch of snow.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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