Massive Storm Brings Power Outages and 80 MPH Gusts to Washington, Oregon

Strong winds and heavy rain left more than half a million homes without power in Washington state during an overnight storm.

The weather system, which triggered landslides, closed roads and damaged property across the Pacific North West, broke records on Wednesday with torrential downpours and gusts of almost 80 MPH.

Washington reported more than 540,000 outages, while neighbouring Oregon saw 110,000 homes without power as of about 5 a.m. PST on Wednesday, monitoring site Poweroutage.us said.

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Seattle said the area was off to its "wettest start to the year on record in several locations."

"The ground is saturated so we still may see additional trees come down even if the winds have peaked in strength," the agency tweeted. "Stay away from trees and venture out very carefully if you must."

In a follow-up post on Wednesday morning, the NWS said: "If you slept through the winds last night, well a lot went on. Widespread power outages remain this morning.

"There's a ton of downed trees & debris on the roads. If you need to head out before prepared for these hazards & dark intersections. If you can stay home, do it!"

River flood warnings were in place at 14 locations in western Washington, with others areas expected to be inundated later on Wednesday as the heavy overnight rainfall is funnelled into the network of rivers across the region.

Major roads, including the Interstate 84 in eastern Oregon, were also closed because of truck crashes blamed on wintry weather.

Washington's Department of Transportation said a landslide had blocked the northbound lane of US 101 west of Olympia.

In Whatcom County, which borders Canada, a gust of 79 MPH was recorded. Winds of 50-70 MPH were widely recorded across Washington.

Photos shared on social media showed downed trees and damaged homes.

Tacoma fire department's rescue team said they had rescued someone trapped in bed after winds caused a tree to fall on their home.

Tacoma Fire Department’s Technical Rescue Team and additional crews have responded to an incident near the 6000 block of South Mason Street. Winds caused a tree to fall on a residence, trapping an occupant in their bed.

— Tacoma Fire (@TacomaFire) January 13, 2021

Officials in Seaside, Oregon closed the town's Sunset Boulevard because of large waves and debris including logs.

Trains between Snohomish County and Seattle have also been canceled for a week because of a risk of landslides.

The stormy weather is the result of moist air from north of Hawaii blowing across the north west United States. Calmer and drier weather is forecast for the rest of the week although it will turn colder late next week with the potential for more disruption.

Outside of Hawaii and Alaska, Western Washington and the north coast of Oregon are the wettest areas of the United States and frequently see large amounts of rainfall and Pacific storms.

flood waters Oso
Flood waters at the Oso mudslide on March 29, 2014 in Oso, Washington. A massive mudslide hit the region that year, killing dozens. David Ryder/Getty Images