Strong winds cut power, ferries sailings on Whidbey Island

Whidbey Island had to batten down the hatches Thursday for its first big storm of the season.

A photographer captures the stormy weather and holds on to her hat at the Coupeville ferry landing Thursday afternoon

Whidbey Island had to batten down the hatches Thursday for its first big storm of the season.

And while wind gusts reached beyond 50 mph, damage and emergency calls were relatively few.

South Whidbey Fire/EMS Chief Rusty Palmer said the district responded to only two calls, one of which was in aid of Central Whidbey Fire/EMS.

“We really dodged a bullet completely,” Palmer said. “It is amazing. Normally we get hit really hard. The wind went way north of us for the most part.”

The case was the same in Oak Harbor.

“We only had a couple issues with trees down,” said Chief Ray Merrill with the Oak Harbor Fire Department. “We really didn’t have a whole lot. I was surprised.”

Tony Popp, a public affairs officer for Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, reported that maximum winds were recorded at 57 mph at 2:02 p.m. and the fastest sustained 2-minute winds were recorded at 45 mph at 2:12 p.m.

North Whidbey Fire and Rescue had a few more calls than Oak Harbor.

Deputy Chief Mark Kirko said his department responded to half a dozen calls involving tree limbs or power lines.

“There was nothing longevity wise,” he said.

In Central Whidbey, strong winds shut down Coupeville-to-Port Townsend ferry service at about 11 a.m. High waves attracted stormwatchers to the landing area. Ferry officials cancelled all remaining sailings for the day.

Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue Deputy Chief Charlie Smith said his department got off pretty easy with four calls for power lines and downed trees.

“All were fairly easy fixes,” Smith said. “There was a small outage involving one house and we were able to work with PSE (Puget Sound Energy) to get it fixed.”

Significant rainfall accompanied the strong winds.

According to Popp, the naval base received .61 inches of rain from midnight Wednesday until midnight Thursday.

He said another .67 inches had fallen through the night until Friday morning.

Record reporter Evan Thompson contributed to this report.


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