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Thousands still without power after Puget Sound windstorm, restoration could take days

More than a half-million people lost power across the Puget Sound region early Wednesday.

SEATTLE — Utility crews across Puget Sound are still busy restoring power after a windstorm knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of people. At one point, more than a half-million people were without power in western Washington on Wednesday. 

While crews have restored the bulk of the outages, more rural areas could be in the dark for days, according to Puget Sound Energy (PSE). 

The storm knocked over trees and powerlines, blocking roads across the region. Trees also fell on homes and property. 

Power outages caused Seattle Public Schools (SPS) to cancel remote instruction on Wednesday. SPS said the outages impacted about 30% of the district’s staff and families, along with 13 SPS buildings. The district said it expects to return to remote learning on Thursday. 

As of 5:45 a.m. Thursday, there were more than 15,200 Snohomish County PUD outages, 2,083 Seattle City Light outages, and nearly 72,400 Puget Sound Energy (PSE) outages. Tacoma Public Utilities reported no outages Thursday morning. That's a total of roughly 89,680 outages as of Thursday morning. 

The National Weather Service (NWS) reported there were originally nearly 560,000 power outages across the region just before 4 a.m. Wednesday. 

PSE spokesperson Jarrett Tomalin said crews were out early Wednesday morning assessing the damage.

“Really going out and seeing what areas, what damage is out there is that first step, and this process takes time,” said Tomalin. “And crews may be delayed because the weather is still unsafe out there and remains an issue.”

Tomalin said there isn’t an estimated time that power will be restored to all customers.

Overnight wind gusts reached 72 mph in Marietta, 70 mph in Ferndale and 61 mph in Federal Way. All cities and towns reported wind gusts of at least 38 mph, but gusts in the 50-mph range were very common across the lowlands.

High winds have impacted ski resort operations. Crystal Mountain is closed Wednesday as crews clear trees and power lines from Highway 410. Mount Baker is also closed after the state closed Highway 542. A power outage at the Summit at Snoqualmie delayed the opening of Summit Central, with Silver Fir on standby and Alpental daytime operations canceled.

Flood warnings and watches

Several Flood Warnings remain in effect as several rivers in western Washington remain near flood stage with a chance of rain through the weekend.

Thursday is expected to be mostly dry with a chance of rain overnight.

Weather records

Rainfall, on Tuesday, broke the record at Sea-Tac Airport, recording 2.33 inches of precipitation. The old record was 1.58 inches set in 1975. Olympia has a new rain record of 3.04 inches, beating the old record of 1.30 inches in 1975.

Rain totals between Monday and Wednesday were notable, too: Hoodsport got 7.64 inches of rain, Shelton got 5.62 inches and Olympia had 5.20 inches.

The weather system also brought warm temperatures. Record high temps were recorded in Bellingham with 60 degrees. The old record was 57 degrees set in 2002. Olympia hit 57 degrees, breaking the old record of 56 set in 1981.