PORT TOWNSEND — It was a dark and stormy dawn as the lights went out for some 2,200 customers in East Jefferson County.
With gusting winds, falling trees and flying branches, the weather caused the lengthiest power outage of the season so far, Will O’Donnell, spokesman for the Jefferson County Public Utility District, said Wednesday afternoon.
“We had exceptionally strong winds this morning,” he said, adding outages started at 6:30 a.m. in Gardiner and went on to Irondale and Port Townsend by 8 a.m.
Those wind gusts came from the southeast, National Weather Service meteorologist Reid Wolcott said, and they traveled up Admiralty Inlet into a kind of funnel between Port Townsend and Whidbey Island.
That funnel increased the wind’s wallop on downtown.
At Pope Marine Park’s weather node, gusts were clocked at 67 mph between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., with winds at 55 mph at a node buoy near the Port Townsend ferry dock.
Farther south at the Jefferson County International Airport, wind gusts peaked at 46 mph.
The wind “was extremely localized,” Wolcott said, and it focused on Port Townsend.
“It’s an interesting little phenomenon that can happen there,” he said. “Even toward the San Juans and Whidbey Island, [Port Townsend] was still the winner as far as wind speeds were concerned.”
The southeast winds were ahead of a frontal system that blew in from the coast; that system diminished the winds later in the day.
O’Donnell said power was restored to most of the affected Irondale and Port Townsend workplaces and households by about 11:30 a.m. Gardiner and the rest of the East Jefferson customers had their electricity back by mid-afternoon.
Port Townsend Public Works Director Steve King’s crew, meanwhile, responded to a pair of road blockages due to fallen trees and one snapped stop sign.
“We had a tree come down across Sims Way, around the Port Townsend sign,” around 8:30 a.m.; it blocked the road into town until city workers cleared it shortly after 9 a.m.
Next up: A new stop sign to replace the one lying in two pieces on the ground at Lawrence and Van Buren streets.
Another tree needed clearing from Monroe and Cosgrove streets, and that was it for the day, King said.
“I think we dodged a bullet, but I knock wood when I say that,” he added.
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected].
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski contributed to this report.