Winds keep first responders busy – Ferndale spared the worst

tree in the power lines during windstorm 2018-12-20
WCFD7 Fire Chief Larry Hoffman at the scene of a tree on fire in power lines on Vista Drive during a windstorm (December 20, 2018). Photo: My Ferndale News
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While trees and power lines were falling all around Whatcom County and other parts of Puget Sound, the Ferndale area appeared to have been mostly spared from a similar fate.

A tree brought wires down across Slater Road between Northwest Drive and Pacific Highway resulting in the closure of that section of the road. The same was reported just before noon on Willeys Lake Road west of Woodland Road.

There have also been some power outages reported in the Ferndale area since this morning. But the Puget Sound Energy system for reporting outages eventually became overwhelmed by the volume of inquiries and stopped responding.

A weather station near Ferndale High School reported gusts of 73mph shortly after 11am this morning.

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But, compared with the rest of Whatcom County and the Puget Sound area, Ferndale appeared to have gotten off easy during this windstorm.

First responder resources in the east county areas were stretched thin as they dealt with multiple reports of live wires arching and being pulled down by fallen trees.

In Birch Bay, high tide coinciding with the high winds brought water and debris over Birch Bay Drive resulting in the closure of the road. Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office and North Whatcom Fire and Rescue personnel were dispatched to carry out a rescue effort after one driver ended up in the bay along Birch Bay Drive before the closure.

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In Skagit County, both the northbound and southbound lanes of I-5 were closed due to trees and wires down in the roadway. Some vehicles were reported entangled by the wires but the Washington State Patrol said their were no injuries.

Puget Sound Energy was reporting that 15,000 of its customers without power in Whatcom County about noon today according to WCSO Division of Emergency Deputy Director John Gargett.

Garget said the State Emergency Operations Center had been partially activated to support response efforts to the windstorm.

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Whatcom County Fire District 7 Fire Chief Larry Hoffman said they had responded to as many calls by 3pm as they respond to in a typical day. As this story was being written Hoffman was responding to a report of a tree on fire in power wires along Vista Drive by Brown Road. At the scene, Hoffman said they were going to have to close Vista Drive between Brown Road and Aldergrove Road temporarily as a result.

Forecasters are saying the worst of the wind gusts have likely already occurred but the High Wind Warning remains in effect until 7pm this evening. Tomorrow is expected to provide a break from the active weather pattern. The rain and windy weather is expected to return Saturday but, according to forecasters, it is not expected to be as strong as today’s system.


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Joe Beaulaurier
Beaulaurier is the founder of My Ferndale News. As a Ferndale resident, he hopes to empower the community with free access to news that matters and makes a difference in the day-to-day challenges faced while we work and live in the Ferndale area.

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