More wind lies in wait

As power outages linger, gusts again are in the forecast


Herald Writers

Just when you thought the wind had done all the damage it could do, it might return today to whip up some more mayhem for Snohomish and Island counties.

As utility crews continue to repair the damage done early Friday by high winds, more tree-breaking gusts are expected today, the National Weather Service reported.

About 90,000 homes and businesses in the area lost power Friday. And that wasn’t the only problem. Schools stayed closed, trees tumbled onto houses, parts of a wall walloped an Everett Starbucks, and a barge was blown into a docked Navy warship.

The strong winds, caused by a low-pressure system centered near Whidbey Island, uprooted and snapped trees, caused branches to short-circuit power lines and even knocked over some power poles across Western Washington.

Snohomish County PUD officials made good progress restoring power to 60,000 customers left in the dark, but may not be able to get some isolated outages repaired until later today or Sunday. The PUD still had 12,000 customers out of power late Friday afternoon.

On Friday night, the PUD had nearly 50 crews in the field, including five that arrived here from five Eastern Washington and Central Washington counties under a mutual aid agreement.

Puget Sound Energy, which supplies Whidbey Island and much of northwestern Washington, hoped to have power back on to everyone by early this morning. Spokeswoman Dorothy Blacken said PSE had up to 120,000 customers out altogether, including 31,000 on Whidbey.

But all the power crews’ efforts might go to waste, the National Weather Service said late Friday.

Forecasters Friday issued a warning for more high winds today in the northwest interior of the state, including Whidbey Island. Wind gusts up to 55 mph were predicted.

Friday morning’s storm had wind gusts of up to 50 mph in the Stanwood and Everett areas.

The winds were stronger than predicted because a low-pressure system moved into the interior farther south than expected, said meteorologist G. B. Packer with the National Weather Service in Seattle.

In this case, the low pressure arrived near Whidbey Island, closer to our area than predicted. That caused the southerly winds to be 10 to 15 mph more severe than predicted, he said.

In south Mukilteo, a 100-foot cedar tree snapped off near its base about 5:30 a.m., sheared off part of another cedar and crashed into the roof of John and Marchel Jorgensen’s home on Beverly Park Road.

"It shook the whole house," Marchel Jorgensen said. "It was a substantial noise."

The fallen tree put a huge gash in the roof and numerous cracks in the walls on the second floor of the two-story home.

In Everett, another big evergreen snapped about 15 feet up the trunk, crashing down on three cars parked behind the Louise Apartments at Gedney Street and Pacific Avenue.

"It sounded like a bomb," said Jesse Garrison, whose car was still buried under the weight of the tree Friday afternoon.

At Coastal Community Bank in downtown Everett, most of a 10-foot-square panel of a wall facing was caught by the wind and was ripped from the building.

Some of the material landed on the sidewalk and some on the next-door Starbucks, said Jim Lonneker, bank senior vice president.

Starbucks was closed, as was the bank’s drive-up window on Friday.

On the Everett waterfront, the USS Rodney M. Davis, a Navy frigate, was damaged when a float used for painting was buffeted by the winds. The Navy hadn’t expected high winds, spokeswoman Jeanie Kitchens said.

There was minor damage to the hull above the water line, she said.

The storm created logistical challenges for some students, families and schools. The Darrington, Marysville, Monroe, Snohomish and South Whidbey school districts were closed because of power outages. In Everett and Mukilteo, some schools closed while others remained open.

Other districts, such as Coupeville, Oak Harbor and Sultan, opened two hours later than usual.

Classrooms may have been closed in Darrington, but that didn’t stop some people from showing up at district headquarters. Irene Kuntz, the district’s business manager, was there with a flashlight at 7:30 a.m. bundled up in four layers of clothing.

"It’s payday," she explained.

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