High winds are coming; prepare now for power outages

December 19, 2008

By Staff

UPDATED — 1:31 a.m. Dec. 19, 2008

The National Weather Service has issued a high wind warning in effect from 9 a.m. Saturday to 4 p.m. Sunday. This warning upgrades the high wind watch, which had been in effect.

Residents and local officials in the warned area should be prepared for widespread damage and power outages that could last for more than a week.

People need to prepare now for major disruption resulting from this windstorm. Be sure to have enough supplies on hand to last for several days should you be stranded at home. By late Saturday morning, it may be too late to prepare.

This could rival a similar foothills windstorm from early December 2003 and a similar windstorm in December 2006. Numerous trees were blown over, blocking residential streets and major highways alike. Power was knocked out to many residences and businesses for as much as a week.

Strong winds will develop over the east Puget Sound lowlands Saturday morning and intensify Saturday afternoon. This wind event will peak Saturday night and then subside Sunday.

At the height of this event, sustained winds could reach 50 mph to 70 mph with peak gusts of 70 mph to 90 mph. The strongest winds are expected to impact communities in eastern King County, such as North Bend, Maple Valley and Enumclaw.

However, strong winds could extend all the way west to near Lake Washington and the Highway 167 corridor. Along the Interstate 405 and Highway 167 corridors, winds of 30 mph to 40 mph with gusts to 60 mph are possible.

In addition, wind chill readings may be near zero with air temperatures in the mid to upper 20s. Consider safe ways to keep your family warm if your power is knocked out for a prolonged period.

To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, never burn charcoal or use gasoline-powered equipment indoors. It’s also advised to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. In addition, during this cold weather, it is important to wrap your pipes and outdoor faucets to prevent them from bursting and causing water damage.

Puget Sound Energy customers can call an automated phone system at 1-888-225-5773 toll-free to report power outages and hear about service updates.

PSE officials said they are watching the forecast closely and are prepared for high winds. Fifty crews are standing by and other crews have been requested from outside the area.

“We learned a lot from the 2006 storm,” said spokeswoman Davina Gruenstein. “Immediate response is imperative.”

In case a winter storm does hit, residents are urged to:

Have personal supplies, including coats, hats, gloves and blankets, ready to help you stay warm.

Stay away from downed power lines and sagging trees with broken limbs.

Keep a full tank of gas in your vehicle.

Check on your neighbors, especially the elderly or disabled.

In addition, make sure to have an emergency preparedness kit in your home that includes:

A battery-powered radio, along with extra batteries, that can tune in to the city’s radio station, 1700 AM

Battery-powered flashlights

A corded phone (cordless phones will not work when the power is out)

Emergency supplies, food and water that will last your family for several days

During emergencies, the city will keep residents informed through:

Radio: 1700 AM

Recorded phone line: 837-3028

Web site: www.ci.issaquah.wa.us

TV channel: ICTV 21

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