Storm packs a punch: Thousands lose power

EVERETT — Fierce winds battered Snohomish and Island counties on Thursday, knocking down trees, causing road closures and leaving thousands of people without power.

Steady winds of 37 mph with gusts up to 56 mph were measured at Paine Field airport in Everett. Steady winds of 37 mph with gusts up to 49 mph were recorded in Island County, according to the National Weather Service in Seattle.

At the storm’s peak Thursday afternoon, power was knocked out for 85,000 Snohomish County PUD customers. Later in the evening, about 21,000 homes scattered from Lynnwood to Camano Island remained without power, and crews planned to work until power was restored.

Don Cox of Lake Stevens was one of those who lost power on Thursday.

“I was cooking dinner a little bit ahead of time because I figured we would have problems,” Cox said.

The power went out about 3:30 p.m., he said.

“My dinner’s still warm,” Cox said. “I’m going to sit down and eat dinner and crank up some battery-operated radio, listen to the news and some music and read. That’s about all you can do. If things get bad, we’ll come over and camp out in the newsroom.”

Cox said he lost power a couple of times during last winter’s tumultuous series of storms, including once for about four hours when a transformer was knocked out.

Most of the outages were in north Snohomish County and Camano Island, but power losses were also reported in Marysville, Everett and Snohomish.

A dozen Snohomish County PUD substations were knocked out by the high winds, PUD spokesman Mike Thorne said.

“We’ve got all of our crews out there working, we’re calling this a major storm,” Thorne said.

Scattered outages were also reported on Whidbey Island, a Puget Sound Energy spokeswoman said.

Emergency planners opened the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management’s emergency operations center when they saw a spike in the number of power outages, downed power lines and trees.

Highway 531 near Arlington was closed for more than an hour when fallen trees and power lines blocked the roadway at 67th Avenue NE. On Highway 9, drivers were forced to navigate intersections where traffic signals were dark.

On Camano Island, falling trees blocked E. Camano Drive and Smith Road, according to the Island County Public Works Department.

The wind didn’t stop Tony Mahan, 48, from meeting up with some co-workers from Boeing for their twice-weekly bike ride. Sporting bicycle shorts and a yellow windbreaker, Mahan warmed up in the parking lot of Lowell Park in Everett as orange leaves whipped through the air.

“I’m looking forward to it, it’s a challenge,” Mahan said before the ride. “We’ve been out in the rain and wind before, but this should be interesting, and it will provide a good story for us to talk about tomorrow.”

Herald writer Lukas Velush contributed to this story.

Reporter Scott Pesznecker: 425-339-3436 or spesznecker@heraldnet.com.

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