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Story Published: Dec 18, 2010 at 1:29 PM PST  Story Updated: Dec 18, 2010 at 3:51 PM PST

 

Homeowners and work crews alike headed out after dawn Saturday to clean up from an overnight windstorm that howled through the Cascade foothills and into parts of metropolitan Puget Sound, leaving a trail of damage in its wake.

Winds gusted to more than 70 mph in Enumclaw and hit 50 to 60 mph in many other locales, toppling trees and power lines, damaging homes and barns - and even a marina near Seattle's University District.

It was the second weekend in a row that Western Washington has been slammed by a damaging weather system, following on the heels of last weekend's drenching rains and flooding.

At the peak of the overnight windstorm, more than 110,000 homes and businesses were without power across a swath of Western Washington and several roads were temporarily closed by fallen trees.

As day broke, crews began cleaning up in earnest, restoring electricity and removing trees from roadways.

About 100,000 Puget Sound customers lost power during the storm. By noon, about 47,000 homes and businesses still were without power, mostly in south King County. That number was reduced to about 29,000 by 3 p.m.

Falling trees took out scores of power poles and power lines across the Puget Sound region, and officials said homes in some of the harder-hit areas could be without power until Tuesday.

Seattle City Light crews worked Saturday to restore power to more than 12,000 customers who went dark during the storm. As of 3 p.m., only 400 were still without power. Some of them might not get their power back until 8:30 p.m.

Within the Seattle city limits, trees came down in several locations, including the Queen Anne neighborhood and also south Beacon Hill.

In Enumclaw, the winds destroyed a large barn and heavily damaged other buildings. Some homes were missing windows that were blown out by the force of the roaring winds.

Trees fell on homes and cars in Kent, Auburn, Queen Anne and elsewhere. A tree crashed onto a covered boat slip at the Seattle Yacht Club, not far from the University District.

The strong winds also wreaked havoc with some major roadways overnight. Highway 18 was closed between Interstate 90 and the Issaquah-Hobart Road for much of pre-dawn Saturday hours due to downed trees. The roadway reopened just before 8 a.m.

In addition, Highway 169 was closed near Enumclaw by fallen trees and power lines. It was reopened at about 11:10 a.m. Saturday.

In Kent, city crews headed out early Saturday to remove trees that were blown down over the road. All were cleared by noon except for a large tree tangled in power lines on South 222nd Street, blocking access to 20 homes. Officials said it could take several hours to shut off power and remove the tree.

Strong winds were also reported in North Bend, Snoqualmie, Black Diamond and Covington. In Black Diamond, a witness reported around midnight that multiple power lines were down along 264th Avenue between 400th SE and 416th SE.

The peak gust from the storm was in Enumclaw, where a weather observation station recorded a gust to 73 mph just after 4 a.m. Saturday. North Bend reported a gust to 60 mph while a spotter in Black Diamond saw a gust of 58 mph. Sea-Tac Airport reported a gust of 51 mph early Saturday morning.

Strong winds also were reported in the far north coastal areas near the western entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, such as Neah Bay, where east winds race out to sea. Tatoosh Island had gusts over 60 mph for much of the night.

By late morning, the winds had died down and a high wind warning expired at noon. But the damage was already done in affected areas.

Wet snow also was reported in some areas around the Hood Canal, the Elma/Montesano area and on the higher hills above 1,000 feet in other areas.

The active weather, following on the heels of last weekend's heavy rains and flooding, seemed to be fulfilling meteorologists' predictions that La Nina would bring a wetter and colder winter season than normal.

And the official start of winter is still a few days away.

By KOMO Staff

Posted 6:32 PM  View Comments

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