Wind blows up a storm

Windy days are here again.

Wind gusts of up to 40 miles per hour randomly knocked out power to hundreds of homes and businesses on Whidbey Island throughout the day Thursday and into early Friday morning. No wind-related injuries were reported on North or Central Whidbey.

The first wind storm of the year comes after a long, hot summer. Only trace amounts of precipitation were measured on Whidbey Island during the summer months, according to the National Weather Service. The blue skies were accompanied by warmer-than-average temperatures from June to August.

All that has changed. Sustained winds of 30 miles per hour, from the southeast, were measured Thursday at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. There were gusts up to 40 mph.

Rain and winds up to 30 miles per hour are expected into next week.

Tim Bader, a Puget Sound Energy spokesman, said Island, Skagit, Whatcom and Kitsap counties were the hardest hit by winds. About 30,000 people in those counties were without power at the peak outage at 1 a.m. Friday, but he didn’t have individual statistics for Island County.

By 12:30 p.m. Friday afternoon, there were only 49 people in Island County without power, Baser said.

Karl Kirn, the corporate relations manager for Puget Sound Energy, said crews responded to “spotty outages” all over the island. Most, if not all, the outages were tree-related, he said.

Kirn said the blinking of power in homes and businesses is part of a “built-in fail safe mechanism” of the power system. It’s an indication that the system sensed a problem. If there is something wrong, the power may automatically switch over to a different transmission line, he said.

Firefighters and Puget Sound Energy crews were busy all day Thursday dealing with fallen trees and limbs on power lines. Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue responded to 10 wind-related calls, all of them tree-related.

Chief Marv Koorn with Island County Fire District 2 said firefighters responded to 18 calls. There were trees and limbs of power lines, trees across roads and blown transformers.

“It was a busy day,” he said. Koorn said power was off at his home for about two hours, while others went powerless for up to seven hours.

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