September 29, 2013 at 2:43 PM
High winds, rain moving through Puget Sound
A day after record rains drenched Western Washington, the region was pelted by more precipitation along with gusty winds from a storm the National Weather Service said had the potential to be one of the strongest ever in September.
The 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 could increase up to 35 miles per hour with gusts hitting 60 miles per hour. The service said the wind warning affects Kingston through Seattle to Bremerton.
By 8:30 p.m., winds had picked up in the Seattle area from a steady blow of about 10 miles an hour to 15 miles an hour, with gusts at Boeing Field up up to 24 miles per hour. Bellevue was experiencing steady winds of around 18 miles an hour, with gusts topping 30 mph.
At aptly named Hurricane Ridge on the Olympic Peninsula, the weather service reported gusts of up to 85 miles per hour.
The winds moving through Puget Sound could be strong enough to down trees, topple power lines and damage property.
“Explosive development is taking place with a low pressure center that will make landfall this evening somewhere between the far north Washington Coast and central Vancouver Island this evening,” the weather service web site reported.
The region’s transportation agencies were encouraging vigilance and preparation for the Monday morning commute.
“Allow plenty of follow distance. Allow plenty of time in the morning,” said Tom Pearce, spokesman for the Washington State Department of Transportation.
He suggested visiting the agency’s Web site, www.wsdot.wa.gov, before heading out in the morning commute.
Monday is also 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 Web site, 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.
Even before the high wind warning went into effect, the region was dealing with weather challenges. By early afternoon, the winds whipped 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 wind storm posed a particular problem this early in the fall, when many trees still have leaves to catch the wind and place additional stress on the 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.”
Puget Sound Energy reported that it had 42 four-person crews at the ready, along with 12 two-man power-line crews, 35 tree crews and 75 service linemen as reports of increasing winds along the coast as the low-pressure area storm moved inland.
And while Saturday’s rains had subsided by Sunday morning, new showers were set to douse the region once again. The weather service issued flood warnings for Lewis, Mason and Pierce counties. The Puyallup River near Orting, which receded in the early hours Sunday after rising just above flood stage, was expected to surpass flood levels again Sunday evening.
The wind and rain come a day after records were shattered for the region. Rainfall at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport hit 1.71 inches on Saturday, more than twice the previous record of 0.83 of an inch for that day set in 1948.
The rains knocked out power to 20,000 customers on 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.
Firefighters in Kitsap County dealt with twice as many calls on Saturday, dealing mostly with wind-related storm damage such as downed trees and a sailboat in distress. By Sunday morning, the calls had calmed, but firefighters were preparing for the next round of storms.
“Things are very quiet (this morning),” said Mike Mock, a lieutenant with North Kitsap Fire and Rescue. “We’re chalking it up to the quiet before the storm.”
About The Today File
The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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