Strong storm blows through Pacific NW

BY P.J HELLER | Seattle, WA | November 25, 1998

When residents in the Pacific Northwest sit down for Thanksgiving dinner, one of the things they may be giving thanks for is

the fact they have electrical power for their lights and for cooking the holiday meal.

Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia were plunged into darkness on

Monday night and early Tuesday after an early winter storm raced through the area. Power was expected to be restored to the

affected areas by late Wednesday night.

"It was a typical storm," reported Pastor Jim Clarke of the United Methodist Church in Anacortes, Wash., an area that saw 70

mph wind gusts. "Nothing out of the ordinary."

The storm, with winds of nearly 90 mph and at least one gust of 111 mph at Cannon Beach, OR, downed trees and power lines,

blew roofs off buildings, and left passengers stranded at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle for several hours

when power was knocked out. Snow fell in the mountains and spread as far south as northern California, where up to 7 inches

was reported.

Seas of 20 to 25 feet along the coast raised the threat of coastal flooding and beach erosion in some areas. Some lowland flooding

was reported. The National Weather Service issued flood warnings and watches for numerous rivers in Washington and Oregon

but little damage has been reported. A flood warning was in effect Wednesday for the Skokomish River, which has remained

above flood for the past several days due to the continued rain.

In addition, the Weather Service issued a flood warning for the Chehalis River in Lewis, Thurston and Grays Harbor Counties.

The river is expected to continue to rise throughout the next few days and crest in Porter at 22 feet, on Friday morning. A flood

watch was issued for the Satsop River.

One storm-related death was reported in Washington. A 46-year-old woman was electrocuted by a downed 7,000-volt power

line. No other deaths or injuries were reported.

Puget Sound Energy, which serves 11 counties in western Washington, reported that more than 210,000 customers lost power in

the storm.

"Weather-permitting, we hope to have power restored to the vast majority of Puget Sound Energy customers by late tonight

(Wednesday)," said Gary Swofford, vice president of customer operations.

Portland General Electric reported that the storm knocked out power to more than 100,000 of its Oregon customers, the most

widespread outage since a windstorm in 1995 cut power to 300,000 homes. In British Columbia, nearly 200,000 customers of B.C.

Hydro lost power early Tuesday morning, the worst wind-storm damage in a decade, according to a company spokesman.

A stronger weather front was expected to move into the Pacific Northwest on Saturday, bringing more rain and windy

conditions and snow in the mountains.

Elsewhere, tropical storm Nicole, which approached near hurricane status over the far eastern Atlantic Ocean, was weakening

Wednesday and was expected to dissipate over the next few days.

Nicole on Wednesday was located 1,025 miles west-southwest of La Palma in the Canary Islands. It was moving toward the

west-southwest at 10 mph. Its maximum sustained winds had dropped to 60 mph and further gradual weakening was predicted.

Nicole, formed from a tropical depression, comes near the end of the Atlantic basin hurricane season, which typically runs from

June 1 to Nov. 30.

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