Brisk, chilly winds cause power outages north of Bellingham

Highlighted portions of the map shows the location of power outages Tuesday afternoon.
Highlighted portions of the map shows the location of power outages Tuesday afternoon. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Biting cold northeast winds, gusting at times to more than 50 mph on Tuesday, caused scattered electrical outages across northwest Whatcom County.

Most of the power outages were brief and limited to no more than a few hundred customers at a time. Most outages were blamed on equipment failure or trees and tree limbs, according to Puget Sound Energy’s online outage map.

Hardest-hit areas were the flatlands north and west of Bellingham, which bore the brunt of winds racing south from the Fraser River Valley in British Columbia, part of a winter weather pattern that has persisted for several weeks.

Air temperature was 34 degrees, with a wind chill factor of 15.

With the wind comes unseasonably cold temperatures and dry air, according to the National Weather Service.

A high wind warning was in effect until midnight Tuesday.

For central Salish Sea waters, including western Whatcom County and the San Juan Islands, a small craft advisory was in effect until 3 a.m. Wednesday, and a gale warning was in effect until 6 a.m. Wednesday. Waves were expected at 4 to 6 feet.

Winds picked up around 3 a.m. Tuesday, rising from a steady 15 mph with gusts of 25 mph to a peak of sustained 37-mph winds and gusts to 53 mph at 1:53 p.m.

Air temperature was 34 degrees at 1:53 p.m. Tuesday, with a wind chill factor of 15, according to measurements at Bellingham International Airport.

One outage cut power to Lynden High School and forced athletics officials to consider moving the location of a key boy’s basketball game against Squalicum High. But Lynden High’s power was restored by 1 p.m. Tuesday, school officials said.

One of the biggest outages was in the Everson-Nooksack area about 1 p.m., affecting 643 customers, PSE said. Other outages were on the eastern Lummi Peninsula, affecting 381 customers, and one that put 205 Custer-area customers out of power. Some 130 customers lost power west of Ferndale.

Estimated restoration time was no later than 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. for the Custer area – Tuesday, PSE said.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-756-2805, @BhamMitty