2 dead after powerful winds whip through Seattle area

31 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Quarter-million without power as Pacific Northwest jolted by wind.

Powerful winds toppled trees and power lines across the Pacific Northwest on Saturday, causing two deaths in the Seattle area and knocking out electricity to nearly 500,000 customers.SEATTLE — A strong storm brought rain and wind Saturday knocking down utility poles and trees across western Washington, and was blamed for at least two deaths. She was playing with other children in a grassy area behind the apartment building when she was hit by a tree branch. “People saw the accident and rushed to help,” McCall said. “Lifesaving efforts were being administered when our first officer arrived,” but the girl was pronounced dead at the scene.

Trees, already stressed by dry conditions, still have their leaves, which makes them more likely to fall when strong winds blow. ‘If it just hits one part of our service area, you can maybe send crews down from another area. The 36-year-old Gig Harbor man was killed when a tree fell onto his Subaru station wagon just before 10:45 a.m., according to Gig Harbor Police Chief Kelly Busey. But this is a service-area-wide event,’ said Christina Donegan, a spokeswoman for Puget Sound Energy, which reported 224,000 customers without power by early evening.

Gusty winds knocked down numerous trees across the area causing traffic trouble with long delays impacting area highways including I-5, I-405, SR 99 and SR 522. Other Seattle-area utilities — Seattle City Lights, Snohomish County Public Utility District and Tacoma Public Utilities — estimated more than 240,000 outages between them. There was a scare at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Saturday morning, when four people were injured by falling branches during a triathlon, The News Tribune reported. Around the region, as trees and wires fell on homes and cars and blocked side streets and interstates, 911 operators were overwhelmed, as were transportation crews. Among the big gusts recorded Saturday: 61 mph at Paine Field in Everett, 66 mph on Lopez Island, and 80 mph on Destruction Island, off the coast of Jefferson County on the Olympic Peninsula, according to Johnny Burg, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

The windstorm halted traffic on some major transportation routes, forcing closures of sections of Interstates 5 and 405, smaller roads throughout the region, a ferry route and the Hood Canal Bridge. State Patrol troopers and WSDOT stayed in touch and helped each other keep tabs on roads and other infrastructure through the storm, according to Phipps. The Seattle Public Library’s Central Library and Broadview branch closed Saturday afternoon after losing power, while the Woodland Park Zoo closed around 1:30 p.m. because of concerns for safety amid the wind. Seattle Seahawks fans who wanted to watch the 5 p.m. exhibition game against the Chargers in San Diego scrambled to reach friends with homes that still had cable.

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