September’s stormy farewell punch in Western Washington
A powerful windstorm, coming a day after heavy rains, moves into the Puget Sound region.
Seattle Times staff reporters
A day after record rains drenched Western Washington, a powerful windstorm moved into the region Sunday, bringing with it the threat of widespread power outages, downed trees and a hellish commute.
The National Weather Service issued a “high-wind warning” for much of Western Washington from 5 p.m. Sunday to 4 a.m. Monday. Winds from the south were expected to increase up to 35 mph with gusts possibly hitting 60 mph. The service said the wind warning affected Kingston through Seattle to Bremerton.
By Sunday night, however, weather service forecasters said the low-pressure drawing the winds into the region made landfall farther north and west than initially predicted, reducing the possibility of damaging winds in the Seattle region.
Seattle City Light reported that nearly 3,000 residents were without power around the Creston Substation in South Seattle, however the service was restored by 10 p.m. to most customers. Investigation into the outage is continuing.
Puget Sound Energy said that nearly 8,000 of its customers were without power late Sunday, most in Kitsap and Skagit counties.
Flood warnings continued in effect in several Western Washington counties, hit hard by the rains that drenched the area Saturday.
Still, the weather service reported that it had ended its flood warning for the Puyallup River near Orting. Flood warnings continue in effect along the Newaukum river in Lewis County and the Skokomish river near Potlatch in Mason County.
Driving rain and increasing winds moved through Seattle shortly after 7 p.m. Sunday, and winds picked up noticeably throughout the evening.
The weather service said Seattle had received about .53 inches of rain through Sunday night, lifting the monthly precipitation total to 4.78 inches — more than triple the average September rainfall.
At Boeing Field, winds pushed steadily at between 10 mph and 15 mph, with gusts reaching upward of 35 mph. By 10:30 p.m. Sunday, most weather stations up and down Puget Sound were reporting wind gusts of 20 mph or more, according to the weather service.
Gusts were reported at more than 50 mph on the Pacific Coast as the powerful low-pressure system moved inland, according to the weather service.
The weather station at aptly named Hurricane Ridge reported a gust of 85 mph just after 7:30 p.m., and the Quillayute State Airport in Clallam County reported gusts of 46 mph.
Even before the high-wind warning went into effect, the region was dealing with weather challenges. By early afternoon, the winds were whipping up Puget Sound, leading to cancellations in the afternoon of ferry routes from Port Townsend and Coupeville.
Seattle City Light spokesman Scott Thomsen said the Sunday windstorm posed a particular problem this early in the fall, when many trees still carry leaves to catch the wind and place additional stress on branches.
“There’s more movement, so there’s more of a chance for branches to fall or be swept into power lines,” Thomsen said. “It’s a bad combination.”
Seattle police reported a tree toppled on a parked car Sunday night in the 500 block of West McGraw Avenue on Queen Anne. Washington State Patrol Trooper Chris Webb reported that the right two lanes of Highway 167 near Willis were blocked by a toppled tree.
Early Sunday evening, Puget Sound Energy noted on its Twitter feed that it had 42 four-person and 12 two-person power-line crews ready to deal with whatever storm-related problems arise. The company also had 35 tree crews and about 75 more service linemen ready.
And while Saturday’s rains had subsided by Sunday morning, new showers moved into the area Sunday evening, resulting in the warnings in Lewis, Mason and Pierce counties.
The wind and rain come a day after records were shattered for the region. Rainfall at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport hit 1.71 inches Saturday, more than twice the previous record of 0.83 inch for that day set in 1948.
The rains knocked out power to more than 21,000 Seattle City Light customers Saturday, though the vast majority of them had power restored by Sunday morning.
Puget Sound Energy reported that four substations knocked out of service by Saturday’s rainstorm were restored by 10 p.m. Saturday.
Meantime, the region’s transportation agencies called for vigilance and preparation for the Monday morning commute.
“Allow plenty of follow distance. Allow plenty of time in the morning,” said Tom Pearce, a spokesman for the Washington State Department of Transportation.
Pearce steered commuters to the agency’s website, www.wsdot.wa.gov, before heading out in the morning.
Monday is the first day of the new fall bus schedule. Jeff Switzer, a spokesman for King County Metro, encouraged riders to sign up for transit alerts via email at Metro’s website, http://metro.kingcounty.gov , to keep tabs on route disruptions. And, like Pearce, he suggested getting an early start to deal with potential weather-related delays.
“We want people to always pad their schedules a bit,” Switzer said.
The National Weather Service forecast predicts a “showery pattern” will continue in Western Washington through Wednesday.
Kitsap County was hit hard by Saturday’s storm, responding to twice as many calls as normal Saturday, said Lt. Mike Mock of the North Kitsap Fire and Rescue.
Most of the calls were storm-related, such as responding to downed trees and a sailboat in distress. By Sunday morning, the calls had calmed, but firefighters were preparing for the next round.
Jay Greene: 206-464-2231 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: iamjaygreene