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Winter winds hit west side

Ralph Edwards of Coupeville parked in a turnout near Joseph Whidbey Park State Park to snap several photos of the treacherous surf conditions.  - Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times
Ralph Edwards of Coupeville parked in a turnout near Joseph Whidbey Park State Park to snap several photos of the treacherous surf conditions.
— image credit: Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times

High tide and wind gusts of 53 mph combined to smash West Beach Road Thursday afternoon, causing sand and driftwood to wash over the roadway. The mix of waves and wind sent sea foam spraying into the air and spattering against cars attempting to navigate the windy roadway.

A county road crew, wearing bright yellow rain slickers and orange safety vests, spent at least two hours clearing the roadway with a backhoe, shovels and sweeper truck, county public works director Bill Oakes said.

“High tide and high winds can cause road flooding at West Beach,” he said.

The county also responded to a down tree on Jones and Henni roads, and trees that fell onto power lines at Nubian Way, West Beach and Libbey roads, and Zylestra Road and Briarwood Drive.

The north end of Whidbey Island clocked more severe winds than the south.

Oakes noted the three most common Pacific Northwest emergencies are wind, snow and landslides.

This week’s heavy rains caused major flooding on the mainland, but Whidbey Island’s lack of rivers proved beneficial. Nevertheless, the rain saturated the ground, which increases the risk of landslides.

“Use special care around steep slopes and near coastal bluffs,” Oakes said, adding that the National Weather Service issued a warning of “high landslide potential.”

Smith Island, off West Beach, recorded sustained winds at 47 mph from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday with gusts of 53 mph. But the weather is supposed to back off. Accuweather.com calls for rain and light breezes Saturday, with lighter rain in the forecast for Sunday.

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