UPDATE | Windstorm levels trees, cuts power on Whidbey
May 4, 2010 · Updated 4:04 PM
Brisk winds that gathered force during the weekend swept across Whidbey Island on Monday, knocking down trees, disrupting rural travel and causing a number of scattered power outages throughout the day.
No injuries were reported.
Sustained winds above 40 mph with gusts into the 50s were recorded at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Oak Harbor, Jay Albrecht, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle, said Tuesday.
“This was a pretty good one,” Albrecht said.
He said the winds were caused by an unseasonal cold front from out of the west, pushed by a building high-pressure system that swept down the Strait of Juan de Fuca and across the western coast of Whidbey Island.
Power outages were reported throughout the South End as crews tried to keep up with downed trees and branches. Disrupted power was reported in and around Langley, Scatchet Head and other areas.
Puget Sound Energy spokesperson Abigail Everett said several small power outages were reported across the South End on Sunday night and Monday. The largest involved
20 to 30 customers, and all power had been restored by Tuesday morning, she said.
She said the largest power outage hitting Whidbey Island, affecting 500 customers, occurred about 11 a.m. in the Coupeville area.
PSE and Island County Fire District 3 crews were kept busy from Sunday night through Monday afternoon.
Fire District Deputy Chief Mike Cotton said firefighters responded to at least 20 calls related to the weather from midmorning Monday.
“It hit Saratoga and worked its way across the island,” Cotton said. “A tree here, a power line there. It wasn’t the worst I’ve seen, but we were busy.”
He said the hardest-hit area in the South End may have been Pinewood Circle, a residential area near Holmes Harbor Rod & Club outside Langley.
Cotton said afternoon winds knocked down several trees, branches and power lines, blocking access in and out of the area.
About 3 p.m. Monday, South Whidbey Parks & Recreation director Terri Arnold heard a loud crashing sound in the district headquarters parking lot on Maxwelton Road. A large tree had crashed through a perimeter fence, sending a five-foot log on top of a parks van. The van’s rear roof was crushed about six inches and the right rear window was blown out.
Parks maintenance supervisor Tom Fallon wasn’t surprised.
“I’ve been hearing snapping and pops going on in the woods all day long,” he said Monday afternoon. “Along with an occasional ‘boom.’”
“Clean-up begins tomorrow,” he added.
Meanwhile, the traffic lights at Highway 525 and Maxwelton Road went dark about 2:30 p.m. Monday, just as South Whidbey schools were letting out for the day. The signal wasn’t restored until Tuesday morning.
Earlier, trees were blown down on four roadways between 10:30 p.m. Sunday and 6 a.m. Monday in South Whidbey, Cotton said.
Traffic was blocked for a short time at Quade Road near Maxwelton and Ewing roads Sunday night, and at Campbell Road near Highway 525, at Wahl Road and at Lone Lake Road early Monday morning, Cotton said.
Also around 6 a.m. Monday, smoking branches were reported on power lines near Campbell Road and Highway 525, he added.
Ferry service was halted on the Keystone-Port Townsend route Monday due to rough seas.
The ferry disruption led to long travel delays for those traveling from the Kitsap Peninsula to Whidbey. The topic came up briefly during a meeting on ferry issues in Freeland on Monday evening, when Ray Deardorf, planning director for the ferry system, recounted his trip from Port Townsend to Whidbey after service on the Keystone-Port Townsend route was halted. The trip — via the Hood Canal bridge and the Kingston ferry — took three hours, 20 minutes, he said.
Trouble from high winds started early Sunday morning. A 20-foot pleasure boat was found overturned and washed up on the beach at Admiralty Inlet north of South Whidbey State Park.
Neighbors called the Coast Guard, who determined that the boat had been unoccupied, and the owners were contacted.
Mike Waitt of Greenbank, a resident of the area, said three men in a small aluminum boat arrived early Sunday afternoon to retrieve the beached craft. Failing to right the overturned boat, they began towing it semi-submerged toward Lagoon Point as darkness fell, Waitt said.
“It was pitch dark and the seas were really rocking, so who knows where they ended up last night,” Waitt said in an e-mail to the Record.
No more wind is in the immediate forecast, Albrech of the National Weather Service said. A cold low-pressure system was expected Tuesday afternoon.
“We’re looking a lot calmer,” he said.
Record writers Jeff VanDerford and Brian Kelly contributed to this report.