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Storm Leaves Thousands Without Power In Pacific Northwest

Waves batter a seawall on Friday in Seattle. The remnants of a typhoon brought rain and wind to the Pacific Northwest on Friday and Saturday.
Elaine Thompson
Waves batter a seawall on Friday in Seattle. The remnants of a typhoon brought rain and wind to the Pacific Northwest on Friday and Saturday.

A pair of storms brought strong winds and heavy rain to parts of Washington state and Oregon this weekend.

The National Weather Service reported the remnants of a typhoon caused wind gusts around 50 mph on Saturday evening in Washington state, and heavy rain flooded some roads. More than 25,000 people lost power.

The weather service predicts more rain in the region on Sunday.

Sunday morning, Puget Sound Energy, the major electrical utility for the Seattle region, said crews were still working to restore electricity to tens of thousands of people.

Overnight on Friday, another typhoon-remnant flooded parts of northwest Oregon. The Portland Tribune reported rain and wind delayed trains in Portland and caused the city's streetcar service to shut down briefly on Friday night.

But the biggest problem was the wind, which the National Weather Service says gusted to 50 mph in Portland and up to 80 mph in some places on the coast. It brought down trees and power lines across northwest Oregon. The Tribune reported 37,000 people were without power on Saturday afternoon, and on Sunday Portland General Electric said electricity still had not been restored to more than 4,200 people.

Both storms were forecast to be more serious than they turned out to be, because the National Weather Service initially thought they would hit the coast more directly than they did. On Friday, the National Weather Service office in Seattle issued a warning for damaging winds and heavy rain, and forecast wind gusts of 65 to 70 mph on Saturday for the area around the city.

In preparation for the storm, Seattle's mayor activated the city's emergency operations center, and warned residents to "defer traveling during the storm."

The Portland Bureau of Transportation warned of "flying debris" and recommended that residents cancel unnecessary travel.

On Sunday, some people took to Twitter to point out that the winds in Seattle had not been as strong as predicted, and some expressed frustration that the National Weather Service had not predicted the storm more accurately.

The National Weather Service responded with tweets pointing out the many difficulties of forecasting a storm coming over the ocean, and sharing a map of the storm's trajectory from the south Pacific all the way to the Pacific Northwest.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rebecca Hersher (she/her) is a reporter on NPR's Science Desk, where she reports on outbreaks, natural disasters, and environmental and health research. Since coming to NPR in 2011, she has covered the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, embedded with the Afghan army after the American combat mission ended, and reported on floods and hurricanes in the U.S. She's also reported on research about puppies. Before her work on the Science Desk, she was a producer for NPR's Weekend All Things Considered in Los Angeles.