34,000 lose power in rare June windstorm

34,000 lose power in rare June windstorm
SEATTLE -- The spring of wacky weather just got even wackier...

If you thought snow in late April was weird, how about a November-esque windstorm in the middle of June?

Winds gusting as high as 45-53 mph knocked out electrical power to nearly 30,000 customers in Western Washington.

The storm also brought several inches of snow to the Cascades and Olympics.

Puget Sound Energy spokeswoman Gretchen Aliabadi says at the peak of the storm, more than 17,000 customers lost power, with Kitsap and Jefferson counties and Vashon hit especially hard. The North Bend-Snoqualmie area also saw about 4,400 customers lose power and some outages have been reported in the Olympia area. Most of those had power restored by early Tuesday morning, although lingering power outages in Kitsap County forced the closure of South Kitsap High School Tuesday.

Seattle City Light spokesman Scott Thomsen reported that about 17,000 of that utility's customers also lost power, but almost all were back online by daybreak.

At a Burien worksite a scaffolding twisted about in the high winds before toppling. In Madison Park, an aged tree ripped right out of the ground and fell on the road. And at Alki Point in West Seattle where peak gusts reached 53 mph, the winds were roaring above the 4-foot waves that pounded the shore.

Once the main front passed, strong thunderstorms popped up in the North Sound area, bringing lightning to the Whidbey Island and Skagit/Snohomish County line area through the late evening.

East of the Cascades, Ellensburg has reported gusts to 45 mph, which brought along heavy rain and snow at the mountain passes.

Alpental Ski Resort and Stevens Pass ski resort both reported about 5" of new snow overnight. Both Snoqualmie and Stevens Pass reported snow on the roadway, but by Tuesday morning, it was either slush or bare and wet on the road surface.

Overall, snow totals across the mountains over 3,500 feet were expected to finish around 5-10 inches.

Long-time locals who thought snow was a thing of the past can't believe summer is just around the corner.

"We've lived up here about 11 years and this is the first time we've really seen snow in June," said Alpental resident Vickie Rippe.

For drivers and campers, the June snow is a nuisance. But for the state Department of Transportation, it's a huge expense.

The DOT is ratcheting up its own financial overhaul. It's already $8 million over budget for snow removal after last winter, and putting on the plows on last time comes at a cost.

"We're set to go for one more night. We've had 49 feet of total snowfall this season, we're going to try to get a little more," said Allen Menerich with the DOT.

Expensive or not, there's little else anyone can do. Mother Nature has proven to Western Washington times over that she will do as she pleases, whenever she fancies.

"The rain, the weather, the conditions -- you cannot say no. Just spend the next two days trying to do your best to have a good time," said camper William Herndon.

Aside from the snow and wind, it was also cold once again. Record cold.

Several cities broke their record for coldest high temperature on Monday. Seattle only reached 55 degrees, breaking the old record of 58 set all of last year. Forks got to 51, breaking their record of 53, while Hoquiam and Bellingham only got to 54, breaking records of 56 and 55, respectively.

Seattle remains well on pace to shatter the record for coldest June ever, with an average high temperature so far of 57.0 degrees -- a full 5 degrees and change below what would be the coldest June ever. Normal high temperatures are in the upper 60s.

List of Peak Gusts

Here is the list of peak gusts from the overnight storm:

  • Alki Beach 53 mph
  • Seattle (Sea-Tac) 45 mph
  • Everett 44 mph
  • Hoquiam 43 mph
  • Bremerton 41 mph
  • Silverdale 41 mph
  • Port Angeles 41 mph
  • Oak Harbor 40 mph
  • Boeing Field 39 mph
  • Tacoma/McChord AFB 39 mph
  • Quillayute 39 mph
  • Renton 38 mph
  • Shelton 37 mph
  • Olympia 36 mph
  • Gig Harbor 35 mph
  • Bellingham 30 mph