Part of a tree along Colby Avenue fell across the street following a wind storm at around 1 a.m. Saturday in Everett. (Ryan Berry / Herald file)

Part of a tree along Colby Avenue fell across the street following a wind storm at around 1 a.m. Saturday in Everett. (Ryan Berry / Herald file)

Colder temps coming as thousands still wait for power

Low temperatures in the mid-30s were projected for much of Snohomish County overnight. It’ll get colder.

EVERETT — Lower temperatures are on the way as thousands of homes and businesses in Snohomish County and on Camano Island remain without power after a wind storm Friday night.

At the peak of power outages for Snohomish County Public Utility District, about 190,000 of the utility’s 360,000 customers lost power. Crews working around the clock had restored power to nearly 140,000 customers by Sunday afternoon, PUD spokesman Aaron Swaney said.

“For the amount of damage I’ve seen out there from crews sending me pictures, that’s pretty wild,” he said.

The combination of strong winds, saturated ground and leaves still clinging to branches topped entire trees instead of just limbs. More than 50 crews were working in the PUD’s service area, including 11 from other utility districts.

When an entire tree falls into lines, the challenge to restore electricity increases. Instead of just sending line crews out to repair wires, this storm has meant crews to cut through trees and untangle lines, and other workers to remove and replace broken utility poles. The PUD had 11 crews out solely to clear trees and other debris from power lines.

Resetting just one utility pole can take a crew 12 hours. There were a couple dozen such poles that broke across the county.

“We’ve got to clear the damage first, then we can fix the equipment and get the lights back on,” Swaney said.

Temperatures near freezing were projected as early as Monday with the snow level around 1,500 feet for most of the Puget Sound area, according to the National Weather Service office in Seattle.

The Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management was making plans for cold weather shelters, program manager Jarrod Dibble said. Shelters were open Sunday in Marysville at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 7215 51st Ave. NE, Monroe at New Hope Fellowship Church, 1012 W. Main St., and Snohomish at Snohomish Evangelical Free Church, 210 Ave. B.

Others could open if temperatures drop to 34 degrees or lower, or if more people flushed out of their homes without power show up to those already open.

People who still don’t have power should plan to stay somewhere that has heat, such as with family, friends or at a hotel, Swaney said. Barbecues and generators should not be brought inside, as they are a fire hazard and carbon monoxide poisoning threat.

Food in refrigerators without power for more than 4 hours is probably unsafe to eat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Perishables in a full freezer can last 48 hours, or 24 hours for a half-full freezer, if kept closed.

Dibble said he hopes people learn from the experience of being without power to plan for future emergencies. A proper emergency kit has at least three days of non-perishable food, a manual can opener, blankets and pillows, flashlights and batteries, first-aid kit and more.

“If you weren’t prepared this time, start preparing for the next one,” Dobble said.

Ben Watanabe:; 425-339-3037; Twitter @benwatanabe.

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