The windstorm picks up speed; Rattlesnake Mountain sees 105 mph gusts


According to staff reports

High winds caused damage Friday night in the Spokane area as a powerful storm rolled in, leaving residents bracing for potentially widespread power outages.

“We’re just starting to see the winds picking up,” Steve Bodnar, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Spokane, said at around 8 p.m. Friday.

Gusts in parts of Spokane County exceeded 80 km/h around 10:30 p.m. Friday, the weather service announced on Twitter. The worst winds were expected between midnight and 5 a.m. Saturday, with gusts of up to 70 mph in the Spokane area, Bodnar said. Atop Rattlesnake Mountain near the Tri-Cities, winds reached an “impressive” 105 mph Friday night, the weather service said in a tweet.

“We anticipate downed trees, broken branches and power outages,” Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward said in a statement.

Spokane Police Lt. Jake Jensen said an officer responded to a possible downed power line around 9:15 p.m. at Browne’s Addition. He said officers received several alarm calls from homes and businesses because strong winds were blowing against doors, for example, setting off the alarms.

Rachael Fewkes, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said a colleague of hers sent in a photo of exploding patio furniture in the Spokane Valley. Other than that and the potentially downed power line mentioned by Jensen, no other damage was on the weather service’s radar at around 9:15 p.m.

The National Weather Service issued a severe wind warning that began late Friday afternoon and is in effect until 11 a.m. Saturday.

Prolonged power cuts are possible. National Weather Service meteorologist Steven Van Horn said the windstorm appears similar to those in November 2015 and January 2021 that toppled trees and knocked out power for several days to tens of thousands of people in the north. – interior west.

“These types of winds can topple trees and lead to scattered to widespread outages,” Van Horn said.

If the power goes out at an intersection, drivers should treat it as a four-way stop, the city of Spokane said.

Bodnar said wind speeds may look similar to 2015, but there is a significant difference.

“This one, although we may see the same magnitude of gusts, it probably won’t last as many hours as 2015,” Bodnar said.

The city coordinated with homeless service providers to help people evacuate Camp Hope, the tent city along Interstate 90 in the Mideast.

The city, the Empire Health Foundation, Jewels Helping Hands and the Washington State Department of Transportation, which owns the land where Camp Hope is located, have offered “voluntary emergency evacuation transportation” to the new center. the city’s Trent Resource and Assistance Center at 6:45 p.m. shortly. before the onset of the gusts.

The wind was expected to test the branches of the trees already under tension.

With many trees bearing green leaves after an unusually warm fall, the weight of the region’s first snow Friday morning caused branches across the region to snap and fall. The city said citizens should call 311 to report trees blocking roads. If trees are caught in power lines, residents are asked to call Avista at 1-800-227-9187 and answer “Yes” when asked if the problem is urgent. Downed power lines can be an emergency, and residents should call 911 in those cases, the city said in a news release.

After the snowfall, Avista reported dozens of outages that left more than 3,000 customers without power as of 3 p.m. Friday and that number was halved by 8:15 p.m. Inland Power and Light reported more than 1,100 customers without electricity around 3 p.m. and that number dropped to around 300 at 8:15 p.m.

Bodnar said he believes most of the outages in Stevens and Ferry counties were due to heavy snow leaning over trees and knocking them over power lines.

Nearly 4 inches of snow fell at the National Weather Service office on the West Plains, Bodnar said. Larger amounts fell north of Spokane and at higher elevations like Clayton, where 6.8 inches were recorded.

Temperatures soared into the 40s by mid-afternoon Friday and snowfall turned to rain.

At 5 p.m., 0.86 inches fell at Spokane International Airport, Bodnar said. More impressive totals were recorded on the Palouse where 1.64 inches of rain fell and caused flooding.

Extremely foggy conditions were reported in Lincoln County where a school bus collided with an ambulance Friday on US Highway 2 between Wilbur and Creston, according to the Washington State Patrol and Washington State Department of Transportation. No one on the bus was injured and one of the ambulance passengers suffered minor injuries, the post said. The road was closed until around 4:45 p.m.

    (National Weather Service)
(National Weather Service)


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