Puget Sound Energy prepares for high seasonal rain, wind

October 12, 2012

By Staff

NEW — 8 a.m. Oct. 12, 2012

Puget Sound Energy is prepared if high winds and heavy rain hit the region in the days ahead as forecast, a company executive said Thursday.

National Weather Service meteorologists in Seattle said heavy rain is expected throughout the Puget Sound region over the weekend and into next week. The long spell of dry weather came to a sudden end Friday, and heavy rain is expected to arrive late Saturday.

Andy Wappler, PSE vice president of corporate affairs and a certified meteorologist, said the Bellevue-based utility spent the dry months preparing for autumn and winter weather.

“While the sun was shining these past few months, our crews were busy trimming trees, working on reliability projects and getting ready for winter,” he said in a statement. “Now that the weather is changing, those preparations will help us serve our customers as storm season begins.”

Though the National Weather Service predicts for the El Niño weather pattern to return, the phenomenon does not reduce the number of storms in autumn and early winter. But in 2006, during another El Niño period, flooding, snow and a devastating windstorm battered the region.

Typically, El Niño results in a mild mid-to-late winter with warmer and drier weather than average.

“Our PSE crews are ready for storm season, and we want families and businesses to be ready, too,” Wappler said. “Our storm bases used our recent mild weather to train for when weather turns rough. The professionals are prepared. We want your family to be prepared as well.”

More than 250 PSE personnel recently took part in the utility’s annual mock storm exercises at PSE’s Emergency Coordination Center and storm bases in Olympia, Puyallup, Kent, Redmond, Poulsbo and Burlington.

The series of drills required crews to simulate all aspects of response to a major, widespread storm, from assessing damaged electrical systems and dispatching line crews to coordinating with local emergency-service agencies and communicating with customers and the media.

Bellevue-based PSE serves more than 1 million electric customers and almost 750,000 natural gas customers in Western Washington, including Issaquah.

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