Rare springtime windstorm roars its way through the Northwest
SEATTLE -- A powerful storm that apparently had little regard for the calendar rolled into the Pacific Northwest on Friday, bringing a rare spring-time wind event to the region.
The coast took the brunt of it in Washington, with a 65 mph wind gust registered in Hoquiam and 60 mph gust in Westport and Pacific. But even inland, the howling winds of 45-60 mph were enough to cause some damage.
In Bellevue, a tree fell into a home in the 2400 block of 161st Ave SE.
"I just got home and was going to talk with my neighbors," said homeowner Mo Ahten. "And as I was walking across, I heard crackling and the wind had gusted, and looked over and watched a tree come right down on my house. Like 'KaBoom!'. I would have been in the bedroom had it come down about another 5-10 minutes."
He said the tree, about 30-36 inches in diameter, landed on the master bedroom and guest bedroom.
"Basically, the whole roof is knocked out in the back of the house," Ahten said.
No one was hurt.
On Bothell's 108th Ave NE, a tree fell onto a car containing an adult and 4 children aged 7-10, according to Bothell Police. But all five inside were OK and just suffered some scrapes.
And up near Bellingham Bay, A KOMO News crew had a harrowing tale while covering the storm at Taylor Shellfish in Samish, where a tree had already fallen on a van. But there was an 80-foot pine tree next to that one that was swaying precariously in the wind.
Then, as our cameras rolled, it too, succumbed to gravity, taking out a second car parked behind it.
The car's owner came out from the farm to find his car had been victimized by Mother Nature. He saw the tree had fallen on the van earlier, but decided lightning wouldn't strike the same place twice and parked right next to it.
"We just went there to buy a crab," said Keith Carpenter. "We better enjoy this crab tonight -- it cost a lot of money."
Over on the coast, a spotter reported some damage to a gazebo during a 60 mph gust in Pacific.
The Behme family of four from Federal Way was out at Grayland on Spring Break trying to get a break from the wind. But it was hard for them just to stand up.
"Today is a clam day," said Aaron Behme. "You don't see many clam diggers. So we did that a few days ago." He was asked, "Are you going to do it tonight?" Behme said, "Oh no. We're not going to do it tonight."
"I think the clams would win today," said Corrine Behme. "In all my years living here I've never seen it like this ever. You think of storms and the beach being kind of rainy and miserable, but this is crazy."
The afternoon high tide came and went Friday and the jetty protecting downtown Westport is withstood the high surf. The rock wall was fortified recently and is a little higher than before helping to keep the town from being inundated.
"I'm used to the wind down in the (Columbia River) gorge," said Oregon visitor Julie Reed looking out from the Westport observation tower. "But at the coast this is pretty impressive."
Pierce County Public Works officials reported a number of road closures due to tree falls.
At the storm's peak, Puget Sound Energy reported about 22,000 customers in the dark, while Tacoma Power reported about 7,000 outages. Snohomish PUD reported scattered outages. Seattle City Light made it through much of the day outage-free, until the storm knocked out about 7,000 customers in the south side of the city in the evening.
Peak gusts in the inland areas as of 9 p.m. included 62 mph on Lopez Island, 60 mph in Bellingham, 59 mph at Whidbey NAS, 54 mph in Olympia, 53 mph in Tacoma and Gig Harbor, 51 mph in Everett and 47 mph in Seattle (although 49 mph along the 520 Bridge). Some more gaudy numbers in unpopulated areas included 76 mph at Destruction Island off the coast, 94 mph at the aptly-named Hurricane Ridge and an eye-popping 102 mph gust atop Crystal Mountain! (That's at 6,800 feet.)
The storm took a far greater toll in northern Oregon, where wind gusts up to 70 mph blasted the coast while 50-60 mph gusts hit the Portland area. Over 160,000 people lost power and social media reports showed dozens of trees down across the Willamette Valley with over 400 downed lines.
In Southwestern Portland, a 67-year-old man died when a large tree limb fell on him behind a house. Deputies say a resident discovered the man under a large limb covered in blood and debris.
The person called 911 and performed CPR until paramedics arrived. The man, identified as Ronald Edward Kibert of Tigard, was taken to OHSU where he died from his injuries. Deputies say Kibert lived nearby and would often like to walk the area.
Wind Advisories remained in effect for the Puget Sound region through 1 a.m. Saturday for continued gusts to 40-45 mph. High Wind Warnings for gusts up to 60 mph remained in effect for the coast and Northwest Interior until 11 p.m.
Strongest April wind storm in 55 years?
The storm will likely go down in history -- not for its strength or damage; no, this won't go in the same conversations as the Inauguration Day Storm or the Hanukkah Eve storm -- but for its timing, coming as we're well into spring. April wind storms are quite rare around here, with the last significant April wind storm occurring almost 55 years ago on April 27, 1962, according to noted windstorm researcher Wolf Read.
There, a 977 mb low came ashore around Tatoosh Island, bringing wind speeds of 60-70 mph along the coast and 50-60 mph across the I-5 corridor. That storm went along a classic storm track, whereas our current storm is expected to stay offshore until it reaches the northern tip of Vancouver Island. To compare, our current storm had a bit stronger central pressure of 970 mb.
Five years earlier was another wind storm on April 14th -- that storm only had a central pressure of 988 mb -- some 18 mb weaker than the current storm, but did make landfall across Northwestern Washington. That storm brought 40-50 mph wind gusts around the region