Damaging winds topple trees, 300K lose power in Northwest

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More than 300,000 households and businesses lost power Thursday as strong winds took down trees and power lines, blew over shipping containers and tore off part of a clock tower’s exterior in western Washington.

At their peak Thursday, gusts reached 74 mph (120 kph) along the coast, near 60 mph (96 kph) inland and 117 mph (188 kph) at Mount Baker, according to the National Weather Service in Seattle.

Winds were expected to remain gusty through Thursday evening but not be as strong as earlier in the day, forecasters said.

Trees took out power lines, smashed cars and landed on rooftops, closing roads, bridges and some schools. No serious injuries have been reported.

In Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood, a giant Western Hemlock landed on the roof of a home.

“I heard a big gust of wind and we ran outside to make sure no one was hurt,” Marlow Harris told KOMO-TV. “Everyone loved the trees here, so I’m sad that we lost a big old tree, it must have been 60 feet tall.”

Downed power lines blocked southbound Interstate 5 near Burlington on Thursday afternoon. Only one lane of northbound I-5 remained open in that area. Officials temporarily closed the Hood Canal Bridge because of high winds and the Deception Pass Bridge because of downed trees and power lines.

Winds in Bellingham ripped part of the exterior from a clock tower while in Discovery Bay west of Chimacum an 80-foot (24-meter) sailboat was blown aground.

“Apparently trees aren’t all we are dealing with today,” tweeted Washington State Patrol Trooper Chelsea Hodgson with a photo of a trampoline trapped between power lines in Grays Harbor.

Washington State Ferries officials said their northern waters runs such as the San Juan Islands run and the Port Townsend-Coupeville experienced cancelations and delays, while some Puget Sound runs faced delays, rough seas and limits on boarding space.

Scott Wilson, a spokesman with the Kitsap County Sheriff’s office, told the Seattle Times that Thursday’s windstorm brought fallen trees and downed power lines to Port Orchard, but did not appear to have further damaged structures damaged Tuesday by a rare tornado.