Vivid thunderstorms light up the skies over Western Washington

Tim Durkan Photography

SEATTLE -- Thunderstorms rocked much of Western Washington Thursday afternoon, sending torrential rains, frequent lightning hail and in some areas, damaging winds. The National Weather Service estimated there were 2,500 lightning strikes in Western Washington.

The hardest hit area appears to be in Thurston County, where a severe thunderstorm brought strong winds that toppled trees and power lines.

In Yelm, numerous wires and power poles were apparently blown down on the Yelm Highway between Wiggins and Corporate Center Loop, according to the Thurston County Sheriff's Office.

Amanda Gordon was driving with her one-year-old daughter in the back seat when her car was struck by a falling power line.

"It just blew in so fast everyone that everyone just stopped in the middle of the street, here on Yelm Highway," she said. "I have a good friend that lives quite close so I decided to turn around and go to their house, sort of safe harbor, and the moment I turned around, a power pole from the golf course literally just with a big transformer, just came down right in front of me in slow motion."

She had been stuck there for at least two hours with the power lines draped around her car.

"Fortunately, I was just worried about the power lines and I'm sort of in a little triangle where I'm at so the power lines are literally right next to me and the poles in front of me," Gordon said. "It was across my hood and I had a couple feet to back to the truck behind me. But, it's just kind of hovering here."

She said several cars were similarly trapped.

"I believe four to five behind me stuck in the same situation, as well as numerous cars, in front of me there is Lacey Corporate Center. I believe it looks like a car caught on fire, so they were sort of treating that first so there was quite bit of smoke from it," she said. 'It looks like maybe a transformer blew up in that process."

It's quite a mess, she said.

"Behind me there are just lines all over, there's branches everywhere. There's power lines that actually not only fell but broke in half, so the lines not only fell but then moved across the road and hit people across the road."

She said she was thankful neither of them weren't hurt.

"Fortunately (my daughter) was asleep and she didn't wake up until everything sort of subsided," Gordon said. "So far we're good, we're not hurt, you know a little definitely stirred but it looks like the power company is finally on the scene."

In Lacey, there were multiple reports of trees down, including at least two into homes. Trees were also reported toppled in Grand Mound.

In Olympia, the city's emergency manager reports a roof has been ripped off a small building and several trees and power lines were down, some hitting cars.

So far, no injuries have been reported.

Puget Sound Energy reported nearly 45,000 people were without power as of 7:30 p.m. The storms also had an impact on Sea-Tac Airport, where some flights were delayed between 15-30 minutes.

In between the storm, social media was filled with photos depicting eerie skies that looked like something more common to Oklahoma than Washington:

A Severe Thunderstorm Watch remains in effect for Pierce, Thurston, Mason, Lewis, Cowlitz and Clark Counties in Western Washington through 11 p.m. for potentially more severe thunderstorms. Strong thunderstorms remain possible across the rest of the I-5 corridor through the late evening.

The rest of the night will feature breezy southwest winds, much cooler temperatures, the death of the muggy feel -- and eventually some good old fashioned Seattle rain showers.

That's the story for Friday as that trough finally swings through with light scattered showers and highs back only in the 50s.

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