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Second windstorm lacks punch of first; one school closed

Sunday's storm knocks down more trees

Bellingham Police officer Jeremy Woodward stops traffic on Wilkin Street near Lake Padden in Bellingham after a tree fell on power lines during high winds, Sunday afternoon, March 13, 2016.
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Bellingham Police officer Jeremy Woodward stops traffic on Wilkin Street near Lake Padden in Bellingham after a tree fell on power lines during high winds, Sunday afternoon, March 13, 2016.

Some 177,000 PSE customers were without electricity throughout Western Washington on Sunday, including several thousand customers in Whatcom County, as a ferocious windstorm roared through the region — the second in a week.

A power outage canceled classes at Beach Elementary School on Lummi Island, school officials said Monday.

National Weather Service forecasters had issued a high wind warning for Sunday, predicting sustained winds to 40 mph with gusts to 60 mph.

A stiff breeze began to buffet the area about 4 p.m., a few hours later than predicted, and by 5 p.m., winds were howling at 36 mph with gusts to 58 mph, according to weather service records from Bellingham International Airport.

Several trees had fallen across Whatcom County, but damage and injuries were not immediately reported. Trees and branches have been weakened by more than two weeks of rain and by a similar but slightly more powerful storm Thursday.

Both directions of Mount Baker Highway were blocked by fallen trees at Chandelier Lodge near milepost 35 about 8 p.m., according to an email from the state Department of Transportation. It was unknown when the road would be passable.

About a quarter-inch of rain fell during Sunday afternoon’s storm.

Conditions had eased by 7 p.m., with winds out of the south at 20 mph and gusting to 39 mph.

About 1,000 customers were without power in the Lake Samish and Lake Padden area of south Bellingham and about 1,000 more customers were without electricity in northern Whatcom County, scattered from Ferndale and Custer to Blaine, Birch Bay and Everson, according to Puget South Energy’s online service map. Most were labeled “under investigation” with no restoration estimate.

Scattered outages of 10 or fewer customers were reported in the Lettered Streets and Sunnyland neighborhoods of Bellingham.

A PSE email said its crews will respond as conditions allow.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-715-2805, @bhamMitty

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