Wind causes more problems in county

Downed power lines, small power outages most common issue

By Patty Hastings, Columbian breaking news reporter

Published:

 

Windy weather toppled a carport at an east Vancouver apartment complex and caused a slew of small power outages throughout Clark County.

Trees blew into power lines, causing an early-morning outage in Vancouver's Cascade Park and Ellsworth neighborhoods that affected 2,066 Clark Public Utilities customers for about 45 minutes. Friday afternoon, 231 customers were out of power for about an hour in southeast Vancouver.

"Fortunately, the utility has a year-round, proactive tree-trimming program that significantly reduces the number and duration of outages during wind events," said utilities spokeswoman Erica Erland. "Still, weather is one of the worst enemies of an electrical system and we encourage our customers to be prepared and be careful."

Winds blew down a carport at the Eight Towncenter at Fisher's Landing, 16900 S.E. 26th Drive. A crew worked to clean up the collapsed carport Friday.

Pearson Field in Vancouver records wind gusts of 23 mph and winds at 15 mph. To the east, in Camas, winds were higher at 28 mph, according to the National Weather Service in Portland. Winds were much higher in the western Columbia Gorge, with gusts up to 70 mph. At 1:49 p.m. Friday, Steve Pierce, weather blogger and President of the Oregon Chapter of the American Meteorological Society, measured a peak wind gust of 122 mph at Crown Point in the Gorge.

The National Weather Service in Portland issued an advisory warning drivers of high profile vehicles that may be heading that direction. The advisory also said that gusty winds and prolonged dry weather lead to an unusual fire danger in Southwest Washington. A red flag warning was put into place along regional coastlines in Oregon and Washington, as well as the Cascades on the Oregon side of the Columbia River.

Firefighters in Pacific County on the corner of the Washington coast were battling a 25-acre wildfire driven by east winds measuring 30 to 40 mph, according to Seth Barns, spokesman for the Washington Department of Natural Resources. The fire, which sparked on timber property, could by seen from Highway 101.

Andy Bryant, hydrologist with the National Weather Service, said that foresters had taken advantages of the dry conditions to burn flash piles of timber.

"Normally during the winter it's so wet, you couldn't burn anything if you tried," Bryant said.

Conditions however, got too dry, and the wind picked up, increasing the chances that small burns and campfires could get out of control.

"The idea that we're talking about this in late January is kind of crazy," Bryant said. "Because we've had such a dry winter, it is a concern now."

Today, he said, should bring lighter winds, clear skies and temperatures hovering around 50 degrees. Although it will still be breezy, it won't be anything like Thursday or Friday — the two windiest days of the week. Thursday winds knocked over half of a manufactured home being towed by a tractor-trailer over the southbound Interstate 205 bridge. Around that time, winds were measuring 40 mph at the Portland International Airport.