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Windstorm topples trees, causes power outages in Thurston County

A storm knocked down trees in Thurston County Thursday, causing power outages and blocking roads.

Gusts reached about 55 mph near Olympia by 8 p.m., the National Weather Service said, but were supposed to stop by Friday (Dec. 12) for a pretty nice weekend.

Thurston County dispatchers said a tree fell on a propane tank by the Red Wind Casino near Yelm, catching the tank on fire.

Crews were fighting the fire about 9 p.m., and the casino was evacuated, dispatch said.

The agency issued a high-wind warning for most of Western Washington.

“After midnight things should die down for places south of Seattle,” meteorologist Johnny Burg said. “It looks to be partly sunny, but dry for the weekend. Maybe a little breezy on Sunday.”

Olympia was spared heavy rains seen earlier in the week. It got 0.39 inches Thursday, the Weather Service said.

Lacey police reported a couple downed trees in the evening blocked roads at 36th Avenue Southeast and Stanfield Road Southeast, and Shady Lane Southeast at Shadywood Court Southeast.

With winter storm season officially here, Thurston County residents stocked up on flashlights, batteries, generators and surge protectors to brace for the long-awaited wind storm moving in from the southwest.

Along with Thurston County residents, Puget Sound Energy braced for the high winds. Its online outage map showed people throughout the county reporting they had lost power. The company reported increased staffing for Thursday night.

Puget Sound Energy follows a restoration process that starts with waiting for the strongest winds to die down so crews can work safely, the utility said in a press release. Transmission and distribution lines will be restored first, as will critical services such as hospitals, police and fire departments. Next to be restored are outages with the greatest number of customers.

The company also recommended that people charge their phones, buy batteries and flashlights and have food on hand just in case.

Many readers posted on The Olympian’s Facebook page that they were ready for the storm. Here are a few of their comments:

“Flashlights, LED lanterns, puzzles, games and books all ready! Hoping it doesn’t get as bad as predicted!” wrote Julie McReynolds.

“I have my candles and flashlight within reach. My Kindle is fully charged so I am able to read if the wind keeps me awake. I’m stocked with “ready to eat” foods and snacks and plenty of warm blankets! Bring it on!!” wrote Carol Sutherland

“Candles ready, batteries charged, propane for the grill, wood for the fire pit to keep warm if need be. We’re good,” wrote Shell Rivera.

The rainy weather preceding the storm wreaked havoc in some areas, with flooding reported on the Skokomish River and lane closures on Highway 101 along Hood Canal, near the Mason-Jefferson county line.

According to the state Department of Transportation, about 70 feet of the road’s shoulder was damaged by heavy rains, and the road had been reduced to one lane in that area.

Staff writer Alexis Krell contributed to this report.

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