The second round of powerful storms that already brought record rainfall, strong winds and lightning to Western Washington is expected to hit with a vengeance Saturday evening.
The National Weather Service said it could be “the most significant windstorm since the Hanukkah Eve storm of December 2006.”
That storm clocked gusts of 69 miles per hour at Sea-Tac Airport and left millions without power for 11 days. The governor declared a state of emergency in 17 counties, and 14 people died.
This year, winds could gust up to 75 mph Saturday, according to the Weather Service. A high wind watch was to take effect from Saturday afternoon through Saturday evening.
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Forecasters said there is still uncertainty in the models but to prepare for the highest winds between 4 and 8 p.m.
“Game time,” Cliff Mass, a University of Washington meteorologist, wrote on his blog. “This is when the winds would be strongest.”
On Friday, winds in Pierce County gusted to 100 mph on Crystal Mountain with the Sunrise area of Mount Rainier National Park recording 76 mph gusts.
In Tacoma, the strongest winds were 44 mph.
Power outages about midnight affected 1,500 people in Gig Harbor after a tree limb fell on wires. Peninsula Light Co. crews restored power within an hour.
Puget Sound Energy reported thousands of outages throughout the day, as did Seattle City Light.
Pierce County road crews worked through the night clearing six downed trees and placing warning signs at 13 sites where water washed over the roadway.
Rain totals were impressive, with 1.75 inches falling at Sea-Tac Airport on Thursday. That broke the day’s record of 0.66 inches set in 1957.
Olympia Airport also broke its record for the date with 1.61 inches. The previous record was 0.56 inches in 2014.
Another half inch to 1 1/2 inches of rain were expected in the lowlands by late Friday. The mountains could receive 1 to 3 inches.
The snow level dropped to 5,500 feet.
“We’re dealing with thunderstorms, lightning, gusting winds, a little bit of everything,” Justin Guy, a Weather Service meteorologist, said Friday.
Lightning struck Western Washington 375 times from 5 a.m. to 6 a.m., he said.
Coastal Pacific County was bracing for Saturday’s megastorm after coming through Thursday night’s lighting, wind and rain storm with little damage, said Scott McDougall, Pacific County’s Emergency Management deputy director.
The county had numerous tornado warnings Friday, covering Raymond, South Bend, Naselle and Bay Center.
McDougall said that while no tornadoes were seen, several waterspouts were reported in the county that includes Willapa Bay and Long Beach.
Waterspouts are rare, tornado-like vortexes that occur over water.
Pacific County officials sent non-essential workers home early Friday. Emergency personnel were standing by, he said.
“We’re waiting for the other shoe to drop,” McDougall said, referring to Saturday’s incoming storm.
Staff writer Craig Sailor contributed to this report.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653