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Taxi!!
Driving back to his North Everett home from Lynnwood on Friday night, Dan Laurence was reminded of a hurricane he experienced years before in Bermuda.

All the lights were out, leaves were swirling, and branches were flying through the air. When he and his wife got inside, it felt like the entire house was vibrating. On the bluff below, cedar trees were dancing around like "bed knobs and broomsticks," he said. "It was really pretty wild."

Peering into the darkness, they realized the wind had uprooted an 80-year-old elm tree in their neighbor's front yard.

"This huge root ball was sticking up and you could see that it was just gone," he said. "It was the healthiest and biggest elm in the neighborhood."

Similar scenes played out across Western Washington as fierce winds from the season's first major storm ripped through the region, cutting power to more than 300,000 customers from the Olympic Peninsula to the Cascade foothills.



In Marysville, a woman was trapped and critically injured when a tree fell on her home near Marysville Pilchuck High School and firefighters reported rescuing others from smashed buildings.

Luckily, Daniel Woo and Sarah Clarke were downstairs watching TV in their Marysville house around 9:30 p.m. Friday, when a tree collapsed into their upstairs office. The two were not hurt.

"The tree went through the ceiling and through the wall at the back of the house," Woo said.

The couple spent the night at a relative's after placing a tarp in the room and removing whatever valuables they could.

Some of the hardest-hit areas in the storm were around Port Townsend, Whidbey and Camano islands and North Puget Sound, where communities took a direct blow from westerly winds funneled and amplified through the Strait of Juan de Fuca, said National Weather Service meteorologist Dustin Guy.

Everett and Arlington were hit by gusts up to 55 mph, while some sites along the strait registered 60 to 70 mph blasts, Guy said.


After a reprieve from the wind and wet in many areas on Saturday, the rain will be back Sunday — along with colder temperatures that could bring heavy snow to mountain passes and a possibility of a lowland dusting Monday, Guy added.

Snow was already falling in the passes Saturday. The Washington State Department of Transportation closed Snoqualmie Pass in both directions at 4 p.m. after multiple spinouts and collisions. The pass reopened within a few hours.

Utility crews took advantage of Saturday's calmer conditions to work nonstop on repairs. By around 7 p.m., over half of the more than 300,000 customers who had lost power had it restored, and about 124,000 were still waiting.

Even assessing the damage was difficult in some areas, said Puget Sound Energy spokesperson Andrew Padula. The utility is using helicopters to survey some areas, including Whidbey Island, where outages are widespread. By Saturday afternoon, crews still hadn't been able to get to areas east of Greenwater in South King County, because Highway 410 was blocked by trees and water.

The highest number of outages was in Snohomish County PUD's coverage area, where 190,000 customers were in the dark at one point. Utility spokesperson Kellie Stickney said they've requested help from other utilities in Washington and Oregon. Crews were expected to arrive Saturday night to take over for exhausted local workers.

Stickney estimated it would be "days, not hours" before all service is restored. "The damage is extensive," she said.

Jefferson County PUD, on the Olympic Peninsula, reported Saturday afternoon that a toppled transmission line and pole knocked out power to two of its substations. "It will take a long time to repair," the utility warned in a tweet.

Wet soils and drought stress contributed to the widespread problems by leaving many trees vulnerable to damage. Leaf canopies, still hanging on through the early fall, also make trees heavier and catch the wind, Padula pointed out.

Dozens of roads across the region were blocked by fallen trees and branches, including U.S. Highway 2 between Eagle Falls and Skykomish. Transportation officials said crews worked through the night to clear out 25 downed trees in the area and reopen the major east-west route by around 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

Several rivers were pushed over their banks by heavy rainfall, but fortunately there hasn't been the type of widespread flooding sometimes seen during November storms, Guy said.

The region was actually hit by two wind events, he explained. The first was a southerly push that brought strong gusts to Seattle and areas to the south Friday afternoon. But the main event didn't start until Friday night when a cold front moved through, bringing those winds from the west that roared up the strait.

"It's like pushing liquid through a straw," Guy said. "When those strong winds went down the strait, they accelerated."

The biggest change in the next few days will be a shift to colder conditions, he added. Lows in the Seattle area will dip into the high 30s by Monday, with a possibility of freezing temperatures Tuesday night.

Up to a foot of snow is possible in the mountain passes by Sunday afternoon. And there's a chance for a small amount of snow in the lowlands Monday morning, but likely just on the hilltops.

In his Everett neighborhood, Laurence was helping clean up Saturday. The people who live next door are out of town, so he sawed off some roots that were protruding into the street from the fallen elm tree. At least a couple of other households were dealing with cars crushed by falling trees, he said.

But the storm had a beneficial effect as well.

"The good news is that people are out and about and meeting each other and talking in a way I haven't seen since I moved here," he said. "So disaster in some ways brings out the best in people."

Seattle Times staff reporters Lauren Girgis and Dahlia Bazzaz contributed to this report.