Storm causes west coast outages

WASHINGTON STATE - Wind gusts that neared 100 mph in some areas November 12 blew trees and branches onto power lines and cut electricity to nearly 90,000 homes and businesses across Western Washington.

But the National Weather Service reported that by 3 p.m., the worst of the storm had passed, just in time for "Monday Night Football" at Qwest Field.

High-wind warnings in Seattle were canceled by then, and high-wind warnings along the Washington coast and in the northern interior expired about 1 p.m., weather service spokesman Johnny Burg said.

"Things will still be a little windy, but it won't be high-wind criteria," he said, adding that some Seattle wind gusts were expected to be about 25 mph.

More than 3,900 customers in the Burien area lost power when trees downed power lines. All Seattle City Light outages were fixed by 11:15 a.m., a spokeswoman said. City Light crews were on standby if city officials opened the emergency operations center, but they never did.

Wind gusts at Sea-Tac Airport peaked at 36 mph just before noon, but much higher gusts were reported north of Seattle.

One of the hardest-hit areas was Whatcom County. A 97-mph gust - the strongest recorded in Western Washington by the National Weather Service - occurred at 9 a.m. on the Mount Baker Highway. The weather service reported that gusts reached 74 mph at Bellingham International Airport.

Students at Western Washington University, which was closed for the observance of Veterans Day, reported that winds broke windows in several buildings.

The region's largest utility, Puget Sound Energy, had about 77,000 customers in eight counties without power during the storm's late-morning peak because of downed trees and limbs, spokeswoman Dorothy Bracken said. About 40,000 customers had power restored by 4:30 p.m.

Bracken said Whatcom and Thurston counties were the only areas PSE still had outages Monday night, with each having about 11,000 customers in the dark. All PSE customers in King County were restored by 10 p.m., Bracken said.

"Crews will be working through the night, and there will still be some customers in parts of Whatcom and Thurston counties without power," she said.


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