The governor declared a state of emergency to help the state recover from the recent series of violent storms.
Update, 5:10 p.m. Thursday:
Crews are still working to restore power to tens of thousands of customers and reopen major roadways days after Tuesday’s fatal windstorm.
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) hopes to reopen U.S. Highway 2 from Skykomish to the summit at Stevens Pass by Wednesday, according to a notice from the transportation agency. The roadway closed after soil beneath a bridge just east of Skykomish at Milepost 54 washed away in the recent storms.
Puget Sound Energy reports 5,722 customers still without power. Snohomish County Public Utilities District (PUD) estimates about 28,000.
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Snohomish (PUD) on Twitter Thursday afternoon said crews are working “tirelessly” to restore the remaining outages, urging people still without power to designate a warm area with few windows in their homes as a primary living spaces.
Flooding and forecast:
A portion of the Snohomish River in Snohomish County remains in a flooding warning, which means flooding is imminent or occurring, along with the Chehalis River near Grand Mount, Thurston County, and at Porter, Grays Harbor County, according to the National Weather Service.
In King County, the Cedar and Green rivers are showing minor flooding.
Service forecasters predict mostly clear and sunny skies for the Seattle and surrounding areas in the upcoming days, with high temperatures about 45 degrees and low winds.
They say there is a slight chance for showers at the beginning of next week.
Update, 7 a.m. Thursday:
Puget Sound Energy reports 16,137 customers are without power. Snohomish County PUD has lowered its total to 33,000. Also: Stevens Pass highway (Highway 2) has been closed indefinitely between Skykomish and the summit.
Original post, Nov. 18:
Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday declared a state of emergency in all counties to help the state recover from a series of storms that killed three people Tuesday, cut off power to more than 300,000 and caused major destruction across Washington.
As crews struggled to mop up from the damage, tens of thousands remained without power in the Puget Sound region and major highways were closed for cleanup. A spokesman for Snohomish County Public Utilities District (PUD) said the fierce windstorm could be one of the worst recorded, and customers could be impacted into the weekend.
Inslee, in a statement, directed state agencies and departments to “do everything reasonably possible” to help recover from the storms between Friday and Tuesday. He’s calling on emergency and military units, such as the State Guard and the National Guard, to assist the affected areas.
He wrote that state agencies and local jurisdictions are coordinating resources to clear roadways, assess the storms’ damage and make repairs. The Washington State Military Department activated the State Emergency Operations Center as one of the ways to offer immediate help, Inslee says.
Tuesday’s windstorm capped a series of systems that moved across the state, toppling trees, striking power lines and causing injury. The recent winds exceeded 100 mph in some areas near Spokane, where fallen trees were blamed for the deaths.
Authorities have identified three of the people killed:
Lea Anne Scott, 54, died when a tree fell on her shortly before 3:30 p.m., according to the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Carolyn Wilford, 70, was driving westbound on Highway 904 around 5:30 p.m. when her vehicle was struck by a falling tree, about 5 miles east of Cheney, Spokane County, according to the State Patrol.
Grant Strinden, 23, died when he was struck by a tree while driving around 2 p.m. in the Monroe area.
Medics also took a man to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with severe burns after the wind knocked a power line onto a fence he touched and electrified him, Snohomish County Fire District 5 Chief Merlin Halverson said.
Hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg said he was in intensive care as of Wednesday evening, and his condition was improving.
Seattle Public Schools operated on regular schedules Wednesday, though other schools across the region closed or faced delays because of the power outages and other destruction.
Puget Sound Energy (PSE) reported about 28,600 customers affected Wednesday evening, a considerable decrease from more than 100,000 earlier in the day.
Snohomish County PUD reported about 45,000 in the evening, down from 70,000 in the morning.
Lynnwood resident Austin Goin, a parent of a 2-year-old, was among those without power. His home’s power routinely goes out when storms rip through. They get by with lots of candles, downloaded entertainment and battery-operated lights.
“We basically just sit around,” he said. “It’s tough.”
PUD spokesman Bob Bolerjack said although crews are making progress, there could be “significant outages” Thursday, and some customers could be impacted into the weekend.
“We thank our customers for their patience,” Bolerjack said. “We’re out there working as fast as we can.”