Brutal windstorm kills three in Pacific Northwest

November 19th, 2015 by —

by LuJane Nisse, The Boomerang editor

The Inland Northwest sees windstorms yearly but none in recent memory likens to the brutal storm that hit there November 17 packing near hurricane-force winds. This storm not only killed three people, it racked up damage beyond any other storm in recent memory,  toppling hundreds of trees in less than two hours that killed two women in Spokane, blowing off roofs, grounding airplanes and causing record numbers of power outages. Washington Governor Jay Inslee has declared a state of emergency for the entire State of Washington. #BigBlow2015 #windstorm2015 #palousestorm2015

About 175 trees (update: 376 trees in total) fell on Spokane roadways, homes and yards in the span of two hours and about 380,000 power company customers were left without power according to Avista Utilities http://outagemap.avista.com. This storm has surpassed the horrific “Ice Storm of 1996” when thousands were without power mainly because of ice forming on power lines and forcing the City of Spokane and surrounding to come to a standstill during. #icestorm96

As of this writing (Nov. 19) many are still without power and shelters have been set up in a variety of buildings in Spokane because of the bitter cold hitting the region during the nighttime hours. KXLY for shelter information.

Those remaining at home without power are finding warmth wherever they can, using fireplaces, propane heaters and each other. The National Weather Service today said overnight low temperatures in the pre-dawn hours Friday morning could reach the lower and middle 20s over the region which will make for a cold night without power.

“We are all huddled in one room with a small propane heater,” Jeanne Jensen of Spokane Valley said Thursday morning. “It’s quite a zoo in that room with seven animals and the four of us.”

#burnedcross

Power lines formed a perfect burned cross at a location in Palouse, WA. (TJ Nisse photo)

In Spokane, lows will go to 23 degrees Thursday night then 21 on Friday night and 24 on Saturday night before rebounding a bit through early next week. Coeur d’Alene temperatures at night should be a couple of degrees above those in Spokane.

“Unlike Ice Storm ’96, when we went dark for eight days, this deadly weather event left us on the guilty side of the boulevard, facing the dark windows of our neighbors. You can go nuts trying to figure this stuff out, like why some trees topple while others remain standing.” (Doug Clark of the Spokesman Review)

Today there are still 108,000 customers without power, with the power companies saying it will take from three to five days to restore. Avista Utilities reports that 63% of their customers are still without power. Most schools are closed for the day because of the storm and power outages and  Area colleges, including Gonzaga, Eastern, WSU Spokane and Whitworth are not holding classes.

 

#bigblow2015

It took a Big Blow #bigblow to down this big tree at the Nisse rental on Main Street, Palouse. (TJ Nisse photo)

In Palouse, Washington

In the small town of Palouse, Washington, visitpalouse.com A tree fell near the Gearhart’s residence (see photos) and two other trees broke and fell at 200 W. Main (Nisse rental property) both causing a power outage from 8:30 p.m. November 17 until about noon November 18 for at least many residents in and around Main Street. Other outages around the area were also reported.

The popular footbridge and Sumner footpath in Palouse are closed until further notice due to tree that has fallen across the path and utility lines.

Garfield-Palouse schools closed today (Wednesday) and the post office announced there would be no mail delivery (including the boxes).

#windstorm2015

This burn from downed power lines show how close it came to fire damage to the Gearhart structure in Palouse, WA.

The two trees at the Nisse rental property (see photos) fell on each side of the house, missing the house and doing little damage. The other tree fell from the hill above the Gearhart home singeing the land and even burning a “cross” from the wires. (#burnedcross)

There were several other outages around the Palouse area. Avista reports on their website over 197 outages reported, affecting 3,496 customers in Whitman County.

Visit http://www.pullmanradio.com, Moscow-Pullman Daily News, and Lewiston Tribune for more information in those areas.