High winds stole the show from cold temperatures Wednesday, knocking out power to thousands and closing two schools.
Forecasters called for gusts up to 31 mph and a high of 34 degrees. Although it’s clear and sunny, it feels closer to 22 degrees with the wind chill factor, according to the National Weather Service.
Temperatures are expected to drop to 20 Wednesday night.
The winds proved problematic early in the morning, downing multiple large trees and causing outages in South Hill, Puyallup, Lakewood, University Place, Fox Island and the Key Peninsula.
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Rogers High School closed for the day due to power outages and Zeiger Elementary started two hours late, according to the Puyallup School District.
Bradley Lake Park and Wildwood Park, as well as The Riverwalk Trail, were closed for the day so workers could clean up debris from overnight winds.
Students at White River High School in Buckley were sent home at 9:30 a.m. after the school lost power.
Tacoma Public Utilities reported 3,650 homes and businesses without power, many in South Hill, Puyallup, Lakewood near Towne Center, University Place along Grandview Drive West and on Canyon Road from 44th to 84th streets.
Crews were unsure what time power would be restored.
Peninsula Light Co. reported outages in the Longbranch area on the Key Peninsula affecting 690 people. Crews removed a tree branch and restored power at 9:15 a.m.
Earlier, 80 customers on Fox Island were without electricity for four hours after a tree fell on power lines.
A fallen tree about 8:15 a.m. initially blocked all lanes of state Route 410 near Federation Forest State Park about 8:15 a.m., according to the state Department of Transportation. All lanes reopened by 8:45 a.m.
Crystal Mountain Ski Resort closed its upper lifts Wednesday due to strong winds “and very cold temps.”
A downed tree caused traffic backups in Puyallup in the 3600 block of Wildwood Park Drive about 8:30 a.m. Police asked drivers to avoid the area. It reopened just after 9 a.m.
In Mount Rainier National Park, towering snow drifts delayed the opening of the Longmire gate until 10 a.m.
By the time Wednesday night rolls around, focus may return to low temperatures, which are expected to drop to about 16 degrees.
There are no clouds to speak of, however. Those aren’t expected to come through until Friday.
It’s not expected to be above freezing until Friday afternoon, with a forecast high of 38.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653