UPDATE: Power mostly back on North Olympic Peninsula
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A Port Angeles police officer directs traffic away from the Richard B. Anderson Federal Building, where a power pole broken by strong winds was leaning toward the building Monday night. -- Photo by Chris Tucker/Peninsula Daily News

By Tom Callis, Rob Ollikainen and Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

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A powerful windstorm that knocked out power to thousands Monday night in Clallam and Jefferson counties was being cleaned up today, with power restored to most customers blacked out last night.

Clallam County Public Utility District spokesman Michael Howe said electricity was back to all PUD customers except an unidentified one. Clallam PUD provides power to everyone except customers in the city of Port Angeles.

All customers in the city are back online, including a section of downtown Port Angeles which was blacked out for three hours before midnight Monday.

Most power appeared to be back in East Jefferson County, but a Puget Sound Energy spokesman said 67 customers — mostly in Port Townsend — remain black out. A PSE link for real-time updates is at http://sam.pse.com .

KOMO meteorologist Scott Sistek said a powerful weather condition known as a lee-side trough caused the strong winds on the Peninsula and elsewhere in Western Washington.

A high-wind warning was in effect until 1 a.m. for areas around Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Oak Harbor, Anacortes and all of Whidbey, Camano and San Juan islands and western Skagit County. It remains breezy today, but nowhere near the intensity of midevening Monday.

Monday's top gust in Western Washington was 72 mph at a citizen weather observer program station at 1,400 feet near Lost Mountain southwest of Sequim, as reported by the National Weather Service.

Other observations reported to the Weather Service:

# Point Wilson: 64 mph
# Race Rocks, B.C.: 62 mph
# Oak Harbor: 61 mph
# Port Angeles: 60 mph
# North Bend: 60 mph
# Anacortes: 57 mph
# Sequim: 56 mph
# Hurricane Ridge: 54 mph
# Victoria, B.C.: 54 mph
# Alki Beach Light: 53 mph
# Neah Bay: 52 mph
# Tacoma: 51 mph
# Port Townsend: 50 mph
# Seattle (Sea-Tac): 49 mph
# Gig Harbor: 49 mph
# Shelton: 49 mph
# Victoria International Airport: 48 mph
# 520 Bridge: 46 mph
# West Point/Magnolia: 46 mph
# Quillayute Airport (Forks): 45 mph
# Olympia: 45 mph
# Edgewater: 45 mph
# Boeing Field: 44 mph
# University of Washington: 41 mph
# Esquimalt Harbour, B.C.: 40 mph
# Bellingham: 39 mph
# Everett: 38 Friday
# Harbor: 38 mph
# Renton: 37 mph
# Heckelville (Lake Crescent): 32 mph
# Queets: 25 mph
# Mount Walker: 21 mph

"The windstorm obviously caused some damage in the area," Port Angeles city spokeswoman Teresa Pierce said at about 9:30 p.m. Monday.

"At least three utility poles snapped and broke off. Public works purposely turned off the power downtown."

Power also was out in downtown Port Townsend.

In Port Angeles, the Peninsula Daily News -- in the midst of publishing a newspaper for delivery this morning -- lost power at its main plant at 8:55 p.m.

Electricity wasn't restored until about 11:45, allowing its presses to turn for a section originally scheduled to print at 9:30.

Editor and Publisher John Brewer apologized to PDN readers for delays in the newspaper distribution today and thanked them for their understanding.

A capacity crowd of about 1,200 was left in the dark in the Port Angeles High School auditorium when a concert by the Falconaires jazz band from the Air Force Academy was interrupted, then canceled, by a power outage at about 8:10 p.m.

Air Force band members, with flashlights, helped audience members out of the darkened auditorium.

The concert was about halfway done when the power went out.

Twenty minutes later, a power pole snapped in downtown Port Angeles and was leaning toward the Richard B. Anderson Federal Building at the corner of First and Oak streets.

In East Jefferson County, Puget Sound Energy spokeswoman Davina Gruenstein said roughly 6,000 customers were without power after two substations were knocked offline shortly after 8 p.m.

Clallam County Public Utility District spokesman Howe said PUD customers were in the dark all over the county.

The historic downtown Port Townsend district was completely dark except for the new ferry, MV Chetzemoka, which has its own generators.

Jefferson Healthcare hospital was also operational, as were hospital facilities in Port Angeles, Sequim and Forks.

Open mic night at the Upstage Theatre and Restaurant in Port Townsend was interrupted by the outage.

"When the lights went out, we went acoustic," said Petra Chonczyinski, a waitress at the bar.

"We're still serving but we have to do math and it's really, really hard."

About 20 people stayed at the bar, which was being lighted with battery-operated candles.

Dispatchers alerted crews to downed trees near Lake Crescent and the Lower Elwha Klallam reservation as the windstorm blew its way through the region.

Port Angeles crews were alerted to downed power lines in roads. Dispatchers reported that traffic signals were out at Eighth and Cherry streets and Eighth and Peabody streets at 9:57 p.m.

Street lights were out on Lincoln Street and First and Front streets at 11 p.m.

Outages were scattered throughout Clallam County, the PUD said.

Hoko, Sol Duc, Blue Mountain and Gasman Road were just a few of the areas confirmed without power at 8:45 p.m.

"It kind of goes on and on," Howe said.

KOMO reported that more than 150,000 customers suffered power outages throughout the Puget Sound and Peninsula regions. A few thousand remained blacked out this afternoon.


Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-417-3537 or at rob.ollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

PDN Seattle news partner KOMO can be accessed at www.komonews.com.

Last modified: November 16. 2010 2:14PM
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