US windstorm leaves more than one million in dark

The worst windstorm in more than a decade tore through the north-western United States on Friday, leaving more than a million people without power and killing at least six.

Winds gusted to a record 111kph at about 1am on Friday at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, breaking the old mark of 105kph set in 1993. Winds were clocked at 145kph near Westport, on the coast.

Power was knocked out at one of the airport’s concourses until late on Friday morning. Dozens of flights were cancelled, including all American Airlines service through the morning hours.
Flights were also cancelled at Portland International Airport in Oregon, and Amtrak passenger train service was cancelled between Seattle and Portland after downed trees and mudslides blocked the tracks.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer went unpublished for the first time since a 1936 labour strike, because electricity was knocked out at its printing press, managing editor David McCumber said. The Seattle Times, which shares the press, had only about 13 000 copies available on Friday morning.

Late on Friday, a Times spokesperson said Saturday editions of both papers would be printed and delivered.

Seattle public schools were closed on Friday, as were numerous smaller school systems.

A 41-year-old Seattle woman died on Thursday after she became trapped in her basement while it flooded. Neighbours had called for help after they heard screaming. A 28-year-old man was killed while he slept when the top of a tree snapped off and crashed into his home in a trailer park in McCleary, 29km west of Olympia.

Elsewhere in Washington state, two people died in traffic accidents involving windblown trees. And on the Oregon coast, an elderly couple died in a house fire caused by candles they were using during a power outage.

Puget Sound Energy, Washington’s largest private utility, had 700 000 customers without power on Friday. Some will not have their lights back on for days, spokesperson Roger Thompson said. In Oregon, about 350 000 customers lost power, and repairs to restore all of them could stretch into next week, utility officials said.

It was the most intense storm to hit the region since a storm on January 20 1993 that killed five people and caused about $130-million in damage, said Clifford F Mass, a University of Washington atmospheric-sciences professor.—Sapa-AP

Associated Press writers Donna Gordon Blankinship in Seattle, Curt Woodward in University Place, Washington, and Tim Fought in Portland, Oregon, contributed to this report

Client Media Releases

Changes at MBDA already producing the fruits
University open days: Look beyond banners, balloons to make the best choice
ITWeb, VMware second CISO survey under way
Doctoral study on leveraging the green economy
NWU's LLB degree receives full accreditation