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UPDATE | Windstorm hits South Whidbey

Karl Ellis, a carpenter with Done Right Construction and Restoration of Mukilteo, pulls a tarp over a tree that fell onto a house in Scatchet Head. - Brian Kelly / The Record
Karl Ellis, a carpenter with Done Right Construction and Restoration of Mukilteo, pulls a tarp over a tree that fell onto a house in Scatchet Head.
— image credit: Brian Kelly / The Record

Larry Hagen was awake in his Scatchet Head bedroom Thursday morning shortly after 4 a.m. when an 80-foot hemlock snapped and fell on his roof.

“It sounded like a rifle shot,” Hagen, 78, who was alone in his split-level house on Lopez Drive, said Friday. “I didn’t realize it hit the house, because the house didn’t vibrate or shake.”

He jumped out of bed and went outside to survey the damage.

“I put my clothes on first,” he added.

Hagen’s adventure was one byproduct of a windy, wet cold front rapidly moving in from the west early Thursday morning that caused scattered power outages and downed trees, but no reported injuries, officials said.

“Southerly winds shifted to the west and were aimed right at Whidbey Island,” Jeff Michalski, of the National Weather Service in Seattle, said Thursday morning.

It was the second time in a week that turbulent weather swept the island. A storm this past Friday also felled trees and disrupted power.

Hagen said the tree, about 18 inches in diameter, snapped about 15 feet from the ground, and the top punched two holes in his shake roof, damaged plasterboard in the bedroom and caused a crack in his living room.

A construction crew from Mukilteo was busy Friday removing the tree before work could be done to repair the damage, Hagen said.

Hagen, a retired air traffic controller who built the house about 12 years ago, was alone when the tree fell. He was not injured. Hagen said there’s another bright side, too.

“It’s going to give me more sun in the back yard,” he said.

Overnight Thursday, sustained winds averaging 33 miles per hour with gusts to 40 mph were recorded across Whidbey Island, Michalski said. Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Oak Harbor recorded high gusts of 47 mph about 3 a.m.

Michalski said winds were lighter across the southern end of the island. Winds from 15 to 25 mph were recorded at Langley, he said.

The wind caused small, scattered power outages from Coupeville south early Thursday morning and throughout the day.

About 200 customers were effected, and repair crews restored power to all customers by late afternoon, said Abigail Elliott, Puget Sound Energy spokeswoman.

The largest early morning outages effected about 50 PSE customers in Langley and about 80 customers in Coupeville, Elliott said.

Deputy Chief Mike Cotton of Island County Fire District 3 said firefighters responded to about a dozen weather-related incidents Thursday.

A tree was blown down along Sandy Point Road, blocking half the pavement, Cotton said. Two other downed trees also were reported along East Harbor Road, and at Coles Road near Craw Road, he said.

The top of a tree also fell across the northbound lane of Highway 525 south of Campbell Road shortly past noon, restricting traffic for about 20 minutes, Cotton said.

The remainder of the weather-related calls were minor incidents involving tree limbs on roads and power lines, he said. He said police agencies and county public works crews assisted throughout the day.

The lights came back on in Bayview and Freeland, following a one-hour outage that left businesses and homes without power at roughly 10 a.m. Thursday.

Power was also reported out Thursday morning in and around Langley.

Neil Colburn, owner of Neil’s Clover Patch Café, said he had to close his restaurant Thursday morning in Bayview when the lights went out.

“Island County Health [Department] says no power, we’re closed. So we closed,” Colburn said, adding that the café had also lost power for about five minutes before 5 a.m. Thursday.

Customers were in the restaurant at the time.

The power came back on at approximately 11:10 a.m. Thursday.

Despite the disruption, Colburn said Puget Sound Energy’s work crews have been quick to restore power once it has gone out.

“Actually, I think they have been doing a good job considering the amount of windstorms this month,” he said.

Meanwhile, ferry sailings from Keystone to Port Townsend were cancelled Thursday due to high winds.

South Whidbey State Park and Fort Casey State Park were closed for safety reasons. Signs at the entry gates warned visitors of the emergency closures.

South Whidbey Parks

& Recreation District maintenance supervisor Tom Fallon said that four trees toppled onto trails in South Whidbey Community Park in Langley and had to be cut away on Friday morning.

“There was a lot of debris everywhere that we’re still clearing away,” he said.

Michalski of the Weather Service said peak winds from the storm occurred early Thursday morning. The wind subsided in most areas by Thursday evening.

A calm, dry weekend is expected, he said.

Record writers Brian Kelly and Jeff VanDerford

contributed to this report.

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