Strong wind gusts whipped through the Puget Sound region and down the coast Tuesday, snapping branches and taking down utility poles, wiping out power for thousands of homes and killing one man.
Wind gusts ranged from 30 to 40 mph throughout most of the region, with peak gusts at 48 mph in Seattle, said meteorologist Matthew Cullen of the National Weather Service in Seattle. The windstorm came from a strong low-pressure system that moved into northern Vancouver Island in British Columbia earlier Tuesday, combined with a front that extended across the region, he said.
Friday Harbor also saw 48 mph winds, while Olympia and Quillayute on the Olympic Peninsula hit 45 to 46 mph gusts.
“It was pretty consistent up and down the coast,” Cullen said.
The man who died during the windstorm was struck by a falling tree limb while clearing debris from his driveway on the Key Peninsula, said Anne Nesbit, a spokesperson for the Key Peninsula Fire Department. He was in his 30s, she said. The limb was 6 inches in diameter and fell 50 feet. No further information was available.
Puget Sound Energy responded to more than 150,000 outages Tuesday, caused primarily by tree branches blown into power lines, the utility service said. By 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, 42,500 PSE customers lacked power; the number shrank to 9,541 by 7:20 a.m. Wednesday.
Seattle City Light workers responded to more than 15,500 customers experiencing power outages Tuesday, and by 10:30 p.m., they had restored power to all but about 4,800 customers, the agency tweeted. That number was down to 65 by 7:20 a.m. Wednesday.
Lightning was seen throughout the region, too, and KOMO reported the pilot of a 737 said the plane was hit near Seattle at 18,000 feet.
State transportation officials also shut several highways — including Highway 162 near Orting, Highway 121 in Tumwater and Highway 167 near Tacoma — Tuesday to clear away downed power lines and debris, the state Department of Transportation said on Twitter.
Cullen said the gusts were expected to be calmer on Wednesday.
Some showers are expected with a light breeze Wednesday, while Thursday should stay mostly dry with some morning clouds that are expected to clear in the afternoon, Cullen said.
There’s another chance of rain Friday, as well as a mix of sun and clouds, he added.
“We’re just getting to that time of year … and making that transition into fall,” he said.