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60 mph winds blast Whidbey Island Monday night

The remains of a tree blocks a North Main Street sidewalk in Coupeville Tuesday morning following  Monday evening’s windstorm. With gusts up to 61 mph, the storm caused powers outages across the island. - Justin Burnett/Whidbey News-Times
The remains of a tree blocks a North Main Street sidewalk in Coupeville Tuesday morning following Monday evening’s windstorm. With gusts up to 61 mph, the storm caused powers outages across the island.
— image credit: Justin Burnett/Whidbey News-Times

High-speed winds Monday night knocked out power to an untold number of homes on Whidbey Island.

The Whidbey Island Naval Air Station reported wind gusts topped 60 miles per hour at 8:45 p.m. Monday.

Throughout the island, trees fell, branches flew and power lines toppled, throwing thousands of residents into darkness.

Many spent the entire night without power, depending on such Whidbey Island staples as wood stoves, kerosene heaters and layers of warm blankets.

It wasn’t known Wednesday morning exactly how many homes on Whidbey Island lost power or when it would be restored. A spokesperson from Puget Sound Energy didn’t have that information available.

One thing seems certain, North and Central Whidbey Island escaped any significant damage from the gusts.

“We did not have the amount of calls we thought we’d have,” said Marv Koorn, chief of North Whidbey Fire and Rescue.

He said firefighters were busy training Monday night when the winds picked up and the calls started coming in.

Firefighters responded to 11 calls Monday evening that were related to the wind. One of those calls was for a tree down; others were for downed power lines, damaged transformers, along with several false fire alarms that are common when power in the area goes out.

Firefighters on Central Whidbey Island experienced a similar evening too.

“I was surprised. I thought we would have had a lot more,” Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue Chief Ed Hartin said.

He said firefighters responded to a half dozen calls Monday night, typically of trees or power lines down on the road. He added he hadn’t heard any reports of injuries.

The wind storm did affect schools and the Navy base on Whidbey Island.

The South Whidbey School District canceled classes Tuesday morning due to the power outages and Coupeville delayed the school day’s start by two hours and canceled preschool and morning kindergarten.

Coupeville School District Superintendent Patty Page said the delay gave families dealing with power outages a better chance to get their children to school. She said schools lost power sometime overnight but it was restored in the morning. If the schools didn’t have electricity, then she said she would have canceled classes for the day.

Kim Martin, public information officer at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, said the Saratoga Gate near the Naval Hospital was closed because of a downed tree blocking the road. She added one of the hangar’s roofs sustained some damage, but workers were busy Tuesday morning making repairs.

The newly christened ferry Chetzemoka, which started serving the Port Townsend to Coupeville route Monday morning, experienced its first cancellation Monday night. Crews scrubbed the 8:30 p.m. sailing from Port Townsend and the 9:15 p.m. sailing from Coupeville.

On South Whibey, Langley was still without power early Tuesday morning and ferry commuters were detoured away from Langley Road to Maxwelton Road, presumably due to downed power lines.

Forecasts show less wind in the immediate future but rain will continue through the week with highs in the mid-40s and lows in the mid-30s.

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