More than a half-million residents were without power in Western Washington Wednesday morning after winds of nearly 70 miles per hour whipped through the area, ripping power lines and trees from the water-soaked earth, according to the National Weather Service in Seattle.
Roads were closed throughout the region, including Deception Pass Bridge, where the wind blew a truck onto the bridge’s railing before 4 a.m. The bridge reopened around 7 a.m., after the truck was cleared.
Numerous roads in Snohomish County were blocked, including Bollenbaugh Hill Road in Monroe, Norman Road in Stanwood and 236th Street Northeast in Arlington, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Power outages and downed trees were also reported in West Seattle, Tacoma and throughout the Puget Sound area. At 10:26 a.m., Seattle City Light reported 41,128 customers without power, down from a peak of 72,000. At 2:18 p.m., City Light reported 11,029 customers still without power. You can see City Light’s outage map here and Puget Sound Energy’s outage map here.
On East Marginal Way in Seattle, the road was closed near South Myrtle Street after multiple poles were knocked down during the overnight windstorm that weather-service meteorologist Mary Butwin said peaked between midnight and about 3 a.m. Wednesday.
The wind was not unexpected, according to the weather service, but the gusts were higher than the 40 to 50 mph that had been anticipated, Butwin said.
“Basically, we had a front and an atmospheric river,” she said. “And with the saturated soil, it was real easy for the wind to take things down.”
Over the last two days, Seattle got more than 2 inches of rain, the Olympia area got close to 6 inches, and 9 inches fell in the middle of the Olympic Peninsula, according to the weather service.
The weather service issued a flood warning after midnight for the following rivers:
- Snoqualmie River near Carnation
- Chehalis River above Grand Mound
- Chehalis River at Porter
- Cowlitz River at Randle
- Skokomish River at Potlatch
- Snoqualmie River near Snoqualmie Falls
- Tolt River above Carnation
King County offers a flood-alert service you can sign up for by clicking here.
Rivers are expected to crest on Wednesday into Thursday. On Thursday evening, another rainstorm is expected to hit, but it will be comparatively weak with significantly lighter rain than we’ve seen in the last few days, Butwin said.
Landslide danger, however, remains high, she said.
Utility companies said it will take hours to restore service to all who’ve lost it. In the meantime, the weather service is reminding people to stay away from power lines, avoid using generators indoors and to use flashlights instead of candles.
Some schools canceled class for the day due to the power outages, including Tahoma, Issaquah and Shoreline school districts.
Seattle Public Schools also canceled classes via this statement posted to its website: “Due to a City-wide power outage, there won’t be live instruction today, Wednesday January 13. Please have your student work on independent assignments. Meal sites will remain open. Please check with your childcare provider about care.”
SPS followed up with a statement saying that about 30% of staff and families were affected by the outage, along with 13 school buildings, where some staff still work.
SPS also said teachers who began the day teaching remotely can continue to do so the rest of the day. Otherwise, students are directed to individual work.
For more information on school closures, click here and find your school district.
King County also closed COVID-19 testing sites for the day at Highline College and the University of Washington due to the storms.