Storms leave thousands without power

Despite seeing a few fallen branches and a downed tree near the high school Tuesday morning, South Whidbey avoided mass outages during this week’s wind storms.

Two separate storms hit Whidbey, one that struck late Monday through Tuesday morning and a second on Wednesday. According to Janet Kim, spokesperson for Puget Sound Energy, the first storm left more people without power.

That’s despite the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issuing a high wind warning for Wednesday’s storm.

“We had 16,800 customers in the northern region, which covers counties like Whatcom, Skagit and Island, who were affected,” Kim said. “There were larger outages on Maxwelton Road on Tuesday, one that left 3,487 customers out at 6 a.m. and another later in the day that affected about 1,100. By the end of the day, they were all restored.”

The larger outage Tuesday morning occurred when a tree fell near South Whidbey High School. According to South Whidbey Fire/EMS Deputy Chief Jon Beck, the fallen tree blocked Maxwelton Road, forcing a closure for “about an hour or two.” It took a line down with it, but also caused further damage.

“It came down right before a car, and the car ran into the tree causing the airbags to deploy,” Beck said. “The driver wasn’t injured, but it delayed people getting to school Tuesday morning. It didn’t delay school.”

It was only one of a few trees Beck could recall falling from the high winds. He credited the limited amount to the ground being “fairly dry” at this point in the year. He said most reports regarded fallen branches. In total, Beck said the fire district received 22 calls related to downed lines. Since some calls addressed the same lines, he estimated there were about 18 separate incidents.

According to data from the Puget Sound Energy outage map, the outages primarily impacted handfuls of island residents in small pockets. There were one or two larger outages, one on Campbell Road near Highway 525 that impacted 32 customers, and another in the Useless Bay area that affected more than 50 customers, according to the outage map.

There wasn’t any flooding reported, according to Island County Public Works Director Bill Oakes, despite a high tide Tuesday afternoon coinciding with high winds.

However, Oakes recognizes the flurry of fall weather this week isn’t over quite yet.

“NOAA is predicting a Saturday storm now, the third in the series,” Oakes said. “It’s not predicted to be as strong as Wednesday, though.”

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