North End weathers windstorm

NORTH END — A windstorm sweeping through the Puget Sound area Thursday afternoon and evening caused several close calls involving power lines, trees and vehicles and left 21,000 residents in Kitsap County without power Friday morning, according to Puget Sound Energy officials. Kitsap County was among the hardest hit by the storm.

In North Kitsap, power blinked throughout the region but was out completely in Hansville and areas of Kingston from approximately 4:30-10:30 p.m. Downtown Suquamish maintained power, though it flickered a few times, said Suquamish Tribe Executive Director Wayne George. Residences and businesses along State Route 305 and Totten Road were without power until early Friday morning, but he said most businesses had generators to keep the lights on.

Even so, the outage of the traffic signal at SR 305 and Suquamish Way — at the Clearwater Casino — led to huge backups in every direction, as the busy intersection became a four-way stop during the evening commute.

Puget Sound Energy community relations manager Linda Streissguth said power outages did hit the Poulsbo area, along with various other places throughout the North End.

“The way the storm hit us it just sort of scatter-blasted,” Streissguth said. “We still as of 4:30 (Friday) morning had 12,000 customers out county-wide, 6,300 of those were split between North Kitsap, Poulsbo, Hansville and Bainbridge Island.”

Outages were expected to quickly decrease as crews continued to work Friday to restore power.

The Hood Canal Bridge was closed to traffic from 4:30-7:15 p.m. as Washington State Department of Transportation officials opened the span to prevent structural damage in the high winds. Traffic is banned on the bridge by WSDOT when gusts reach 40 mph and are sustained for 15 minutes or longer.

At about 5 p.m., calls came through to North Kitsap Fire & Rescue of a bus with a power line wrapped around its rearview mirrors. The bus, full of elementary school children, was stuck on Little Boston Road near the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe’s House of Knowledge complex while firefighters worked to remove the line.

“They are going to try to move the bus,” said NKF&R Chief Paul Nichol during the incident. “The cable is broken on both sides. We believe the line is broken on both sides of the bus.”

The driver was able to maneuver the bus forward enough that the power lines dropped off on either side, freeing the vehicle and allowing it to continue on its route.

Worried parents waiting for children were not allowed to pass through the road, which was closed until Puget Sound Energy crews arrived to repair the line, and had to find a different place to meet their kids.

Another downed line caused Kingston ferry traffic to be rerouted at about 5:30 p.m. while PSE crews were called to the scene on State Route 104, just across from the Kingston Community Center.

A tree branch was blown down on a power line, closing the highway, and causing Washington State Patrol troopers to reroute an offloading ferry and incoming traffic to East 2nd Street and Iowa Avenue. The snarled traffic was quickly straightened as PSE crews fixed the downed line at about 6 p.m.

The Kitsap County 911 Center reported more than 700 calls between 4:30 and 8 p.m. Thursday.

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