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Fraser Valley outflow winds bring freezing temps – thousands are without power

FERNDALE, Wash. — Over 6,000 Puget Sound Energy (PSE) customers in Whatcom County are without power this morning, Saturday, March 14th, mostly due to trees and vegetation bringing down power lines as 50mph and higher northeasterly wind gusts pummeled the Ferndale area since 9pm and continuing into the morning hours.

The Fraser Valley outflow winds have also brought frigid cold air with them resulting in temperatures in the upper 20s this morning around much of the Ferndale area.

Dozens of power outages were reported by PSE in Whatcom County as of 6am this morning. They included:

  • Paradise neighborhood – 206 impacted, began about 12:05am
  • Marietta – 591 impacted, began about 6:10am
  • Lummi Island – 955 impacted, began about 11:05pm
  • Sandy Point Heights – 207 impacted, began about 3:50am
  • West Ferndale (between Slater and Thornton) – 1917 impacted, began about 4:50am
  • Custer (east of I-5) – 107 impacted, began about 11:10am

There were many more localized outages throughout the area and more were being reported as the winds continued.

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PSE crews were being stretched thin due to the large number of outages and, while often providing a standard 2.5 hour estimate for restoring power, on their website PSE warns, “In a major storm or event, it can take 24 hours or longer to provide accurate information.”

This morning the National Weather Service extended the High Wind Warning in place to continue until 6pm this evening with sustained northeast winds of 30 to 40mph and gusts up to 50mph to be expected.

In addition to causing power outages, downed trees and, in some cases, power lines were being blamed for several road closures across the area. One of the most impactful occurred this morning when 1 or more trees blocked all lanes of the Guide Meridian near the Nooksack River bridge after 4am. The road was reopened to traffic just before 7am.

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Tree downed during Fraser Valley outflow wind event blocking all lanes of Guide Meridian near the Nooksack River bridge (March 14, 2020). Photo courtesy of Washington State Patrol

Downed power lines were the expected cause of a reported grass fire that Whatcom County Fire District 17 firefighters were dispatched to at 6:40am near a Sandy Point Heights residence as this story was being written.

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