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Strong wind, down trees, flaming transformer keep fire, county, PSE busy on Whidbey

Ryan Nowicki of North Whidbey Fire and Rescue extinguishes a power transformer with foam Monday morning on West Beach Road.  - Jenny Manning/ Whidbey News-Times
Ryan Nowicki of North Whidbey Fire and Rescue extinguishes a power transformer with foam Monday morning on West Beach Road.
— image credit: Jenny Manning/ Whidbey News-Times

Strong winds sent trees crashing to the ground and fire departments racing around the island Monday.

The bad weather continued Monday night and early Tuesday morning. Things calmed down later Tuesday, but the next 24-hour forecast calls for more wind, so don’t unbatten the hatches quite yet.

Gusts early Tuesday morning reached 56 mph in the Oak Harbor area, according to Accuweather.com. By morning, islanders enjoyed a welcome reprieve of calm skies and sporadic sunshine.

But last weekend’s weather is still on public officials’ radar.

“It’s been a windy weekend,” said Bill Oakes, Island County Public Works director, on Monday.

Although there have been no major events, Island County is prepared for further bad winter weather.

“We’re ready. We’re in a 911 call-out mode,” Oakes said. The county is ready to open an emergency operations center any time it’s needed, he added.

Oakes said Island County residents should have enough resources on hand — food, water and a source of warmth — to last a week without power.

If a tree is blocking a public road or fallen on a power line, call 911 and let the authorities clear the tree, he said.

“I strongly encourage people to pay attention to road closure signs,” he said. “We don’t close the roads lightly.”

In Oak Harbor, the wind took out more poplars at the Staysail RV Park and several trees along West Beach fell into the roadway. One fallen evergreen knocked a transformer to the ground and sparked a small fire. Light flickered, but there were no widespread power outages reported.

Another bout of wind and rain is expected Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service, with sustained wind between 31 and 37 mph and gusts up to 50 mph during the day. The forecast calls for sustained 37 mph wind with gusts as high as 55 mph Wednesday night.

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