1 injured as inaugural autumn storm slams region with 50 mph winds

Trees, power lines down on cars in Kent (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE -- The stormy season arrived with literal gusto Wednesday as a weather system brought strong winds and heavy rains to Western Washington, toppling trees, knocking out power to thousands and even causing an injury.

Tukwila police say an elderly woman suffered minor injuries when a tree fell across 13200 block of Tukwila International Boulevard.

In Kent, trees fell down a hillside, pulling down power lines and snapping an power pole onto Central Avenue at Willis Street. Seven cars were damaged by the falling lines, including one car where energized lines remained on the vehicle, trapping a woman inside. The woman had to wait inside over 30 minutes until power crews could safely de-energize the power lines and get her to safety. She was otherwise not injured.

In North Seattle, a tree fell onto a car in North Seattle, with its branches puncturing the windshield.

In Seattle, power lines fell in front of a small market on E. Lake Washington Boulevard at East Montlake Place East, causing an evacuation for those within 100 feet, fire officials said.

SR-20 just south of Welcher Road there were trees blocking all lanes. Downed power lines also blocked SR-509 at S. Cloverdale Street Tuesday evening.

Further south, video captured a transformer exploding in the north Lake Tapps area. No one was hurt. It's unclear what caused the explosion.

Olympia Firefighters tweeted a photo showing a small branch causing localized power outages there as well.

There were a number of other reports of small trees down or branches pushing into power lines, causing local outages. At the peak of the storm, about 56,000 people were without power across the major Western Washington utilities with Puget Sound Energy at about 41,000 of them.

In Forks, one person reported a small tree had fallen onto his home. No reports of anyone hurt there.

Peak gusts reached 58 mph at Whatcom County's Sandy Point shores, 56 mph in Hoquiam, 53 mph in Bellingham and at the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, 52 mph in Tacoma, 50 mph in Seattle, 48 mph in Arlington and 46 mph in Everett. Even the 520 Bridge hit 50 mph.

The strongest winds have passed and will continue to subside through the night.

Typically the region handles these kind of wind gusts relatively unscathed, but since it's the first true widespread wind event of the season, we tend to see more tree damage and power outages since the trees are still quite leafy and many of the dead branches from the dry summer have yet to be broken/blown off the trees yet. (Nature's pruning!) As a result, there are typically more power outages with the first storm than subsequent storms of similar strength.

Flood Watches remain in effect from Thursday morning for essentially the Skokomish, Nooksack, Stillaguamish and Skagit Rivers. Although since the rivers were pretty low before the rains began, any flooding is forecast to be minor.

Rain will taper to showers Thursday and Friday but another storm is pegged for the weekend that will bring another round of heavy rain and gusty winds.

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