Follow us:

The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

November 2, 2013 at 9:29 AM

Thousands lose power as powerful winds hit region

High winds, choppy waves and water splashing onto the eastbound side of the Interstate 90 bridge slowed traffic to a crawl this morning. (Photo by Marcus Yam / The Seattle Times)

High winds, choppy waves and water splashing onto the eastbound side of the Interstate 90 bridge slowed traffic to a crawl this morning. (Photo by Marcus Yam / The Seattle Times)

Updated 10:20 p.m. 

Seattle City Light said it expects to restore power to 13,000 customers currently without power by 10 a.m. Sunday.

Gusty winds rattled the region Saturday, leaving at least three people injured, cutting power to some 200,000 and even forcing officials to close the Highway 520 bridge for about two hours.

The State Patrol closed the bridge about 11 a.m. after some 50 people driving westbound on the bridge “panicked” and decided to abandon their vehicles amid splashing water and low visibility, Trooper Chris Webb said. The bridge was reportedly swaying as much as five feet.

“I’ve been on (the State Patrol) 22 years. I don’t think I’ve ever seen something like this,” said Webb, who said drivers should not abandon vehicles in the middle of the road.

The drivers were escorted to safety, and the bridge reopened just after 1 p.m.

The closure, which backed up traffic on the Interstate 90 bridge, was just one way in which the fall storm affected life in the Puget Sound.

None of the injuries were expected to be life-threatening.

A construction worker was hurt on Capitol Hill in the morning when a piece of metal awning he was installing blew off and hit him. A 2-year-old boy in the University District was seriously injured by a falling branch around 9:30 a.m. And a 48-year-old Granite Falls man was seriously injured south of Monroe when a tree fell across Highway 203 and onto his Mustang, according to the State Patrol.

Roughly 200,000 homes and businesses lost power at some point Saturday, according to reports from three local utilities.

Puget Sound Energy tweeted at 3 p.m. that 105,000 customers were without power “due to nearly 1,000 outages across a wide area.” The hardest hit areas were Northern King County, Kitsap County and Whidbey Island, according to another tweet. At 8 p.m., the utility was reporting 55,000 without power, most of them in King County.

Outages among Seattle City Light customers were slowly falling in the afternoon. By 10 p.m., the utility reported that just over 13,000 customers, most in North Seattle, were without power. That was down from a high of 46,000.

The hardest-hit areas were in Northeast Seattle between Wedgwood and Lake City; just north of Carkeek Park; on both sides of Aurora Avenue North between 165th and 195th streets; and along Lake Washington in Lake Forest Park. Laurelhurst and Madrona were also affected.

In Snohomish County, outages peaked at 40,000 in the morning before dwindling to about 10,000 by 3:30 p.m. Those outages were concentrated in the southern part of the county, between Bothell and Monroe, spokesman Neil Neroutsos said.

Neroutsos said the outages should be fixed by early evening. But he cautioned that “if we get another set of winds coming through, it could create some more problems.”

National Weather Service meteorologist Johnny Burg said the worst of the high winds were passing through the Seattle area around noon, and that high-wind advisories were in place for Seattle until 8 p.m.

Breezy weather and scattered showers are forecast to continue throughout the day, with gusts of up to 50 mph. There was no chance of flooding, but Burg said up to 6 inches of snow is expected in the passes this afternoon, as the snow level drops to around 2,500 feet. On Sunday, there is a chance of showers, but the forecast also says it will be partly sunny.

Webb, the state trooper, said officials are on high alert.

“It’s been a crazy day,” he said.

For more information: Seattle City Light’s outage map is updated every 15 minutes, while Puget Sound Energy maintains a map in severe situations.

Comments | More in Weather Beat | Topics: power outage, West Seattle


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►