High winds cut power at 15 locations on Whidbey Island
March 2, 2011 · 11:53 AM
High winds are sweeping across Whidbey Island today, toppling trees and branches onto roadways and disrupting ferry service from the island to the Olympic Peninsula.
Roughly 800 Puget Sound Energy customers were without power shortly before noon Wednesday.
Dana Felton, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Seattle, said high winds will continue through the early afternoon and the strongest gusts so far have been reported on Whidbey Island.
The reason for the high winds? Felton pointed to the west.
"We had a strong low [pressure center] go by about 250 miles west to the coast," Felton said. "The front associated with that low went through us this morning, and we've gotten really strong winds with, and just behind, the front."
Felton said the highest gust was around 55 mph and was reported at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. There have been sustained winds between 25 to 35 mph.
"The gusts there at Whidbey have been the highest ones in the Sound," Felton said, adding that gusts of 50 mph were reported in Bellingham.
Gusts in the Seattle metro area have been around 40 mph.
Felton said the high winds would ease by mid-afternoon.
"It's not going to last very long; we're peaking here right now," he said.
High winds are not expected to continue through the week.
"This is the strongest one. We're going to see another system coming in on Friday, but at this point it doesn't look as nearly as strong as this one," Felton said.
A wind advisory will remain in effect until 2 p.m. Wednesday, and a gale warning is also in effect for inland waters. A gale warning means winds of 34 to 47 knots are imminent or occurring, according to the National Weather Service.
Ferry sailings on the Coupeville (Keystone)-Port Townsend route were canceled due to high winds and rough seas through the noon Wednesday sailing from Keystone. Travelers have been advised to take the Clinton-Mukilteo or Edmonds-Kingston routes for travel to and from the Olympic Peninsula.
Fire District 3 has not gotten many calls for service this morning, just three related to trees down on roadways that came in around 9 a.m.
PSE spokeswoman Allison Stanford said at least 15 locations were without power on Whidbey.
One of the largest outages was caused by a tree that fell into power lines along Fort Nugent Road, south of Oak Harbor.
The power disruptions are due to the wind, Stanford said, and were scattered across the island.
"Typically what we're seeing is limbs on the lines," she said.
There was no estimate on when power would be restored.