Conditions around Seattle seemed to improve Saturday morning after high winds did less damage than expected.
The Seattle area got a much-needed weather reprieve Saturday, allowing repair crews to make progress in restoring electricity, clearing fallen trees and repairing other damage from the week’s big storm.
Tens of thousands remained without power late Saturday, and Puget Sound Energy (PSE) warned that some might not get it back until late Wednesday.
But, despite earlier fears, melting snow created few significant flooding problems, officials said, and high winds Saturday morning caused little additional damage.
The National Weather Service is forecasting a 90 percent chance of rain in Seattle on Sunday, with high temperatures in the 40s.
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By Saturday night, the number of PSE customers in King County without power had dropped to 81,000 — down from 120,000 Saturday morning, said Lynne Miller, spokeswoman for King County Emergency Management.
“We’ve been restoring power faster than we anticipated,” she said, in part because better weather was allowing crews to reach trouble spots more easily.
The homes and businesses still in the dark were mostly in South King County, she added.
The Snohomish County Public Utility District said 4,800 of its customers remained without power Saturday night, mostly in the northern and eastern parts of the county.
Seattle City Light reported just 18 customers without electricity.
PSE, whose service area was hit hardest by the storm, said it had made “great strides” in restoring service. About 150,000 customers in King, Pierce and Thurston counties still were without power Saturday night, according to a chart on the company’s website.
PSE said most would see the lights flicker back on by the end of the weekend. But others will have to wait longer: Some customers in areas such as Issaquah, Federal Way and Des Moines might not see electricity restored until Wednesday night, the utility said.
The Red Cross said it would close shelters in Issaquah, Federal Way, Puyallup, Yelm and Olympia on Sunday because people are going home as temperatures warm and power is restored.
Saturday was the fourth day without power for Kathy Francis, who lives south of Issaquah. She said she saw a PSE truck, but didn’t get her hopes up. A pellet stove keeps her home reasonably warm, Francis said, and she’s making regular trips to the gas station to get fuel for the generator that keeps her refrigerator and a few outlets functioning.
Her neighborhood didn’t get much wind Saturday morning, she said, and her cell service, which had been down, was finally restored.
“It’s been OK,” she said. In her neighborhood, with many downed trees and branches, people spent much of Saturday “just out cleaning up,” Francis said.
What’s she doing for entertainment? “Shoveling snow.”
There were few reports of urban flooding, said Miller, the county spokeswoman, perhaps because temperatures rose gradually.
Seattle Public Utilities called in extra crews Saturday to deal with anticipated flooding, but sent them home at 1 p.m., spokeswoman Susan Stoltzfus said.
Officials reported winds Saturday caused few problems. Pierce County, for instance, said it received just two new calls of downed trees on roads.
But there was much to clean up from earlier in the week.
All lanes of Highway 202 in Fall City and the eastbound lanes of Highway 18 at Southeast 231st Street near Maple Valley were reopened Saturday afternoon, the state Department of Transportation said. Fallen trees had blocked traffic since Thursday.
The King County roads division said more than 20 roads in unincorporated areas remained closed by fallen trees, branches, power lines and other storm debris. But several reopened Saturday, including three stretches of Southeast May Valley Road south of Issaquah.
Seventeen streets were closed in Auburn, as were three major roads in Issaquah, according to city websites.
Staff reporter Emily Heffter contributed to this report.
Eric Pryne: 206-464-2231 or firstname.lastname@example.org