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Federal Way escapes weekend storm damage | Pacific Northwest braces for cold wet winter

By the time Wednesday rolls around, it should be sunny and dry in Federal Way. Well, partly sunny, at least.

The first significant storm of the fall made its mark on the area Sunday evening through Tuesday, drenching Federal Way with rain, wet leaves and gusty winds.

The storm didn't cause much collateral damage in Federal Way as of Monday, with the South King Fire and Rescue reporting no calls of service related to the storm. Federal Way Deputy Director of Public Works Ken Miller reported no storm damage in the city, and that no cleanup crews had been dispatched as of Monday afternoon.

Puget Sound Energy reported a very small power outage — it affected only four customers — at around 10 a.m. Monday in the vicinity of 2629 308th St. Spokeswoman Meghan Fitzpatrick estimated that power was restored in two hours.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Johnny Burg said Monday that more rain, a possible thunderstorm and winds between 20 to 30 mph would blow through the region Monday night into Tuesday. The wind was predicted to subside to 10 to 20 mph by during the day Tuesday. Puget Sound waves were expected to be between 3 and 5 feet because of wind — minuscule compared to the 35 foot waves the storm created along the coast.

Outside of Federal Way, the storm brought measurable snow to elevations above 3,000 feet, a flood advisory along the Skokomish River and a small craft advisory as far inland as Port Townsend.

The National Weather Service predicts a light chance of rain and cloudy skies for the rest of the week. Burg said this week's storm is typical for this time of year.

"This one's not too bad," he said.

The National Weather Service is predicting a cold, wet winter ahead for the Pacific Northwest caused by La Nina, a cooling of the Pacific Ocean near the equator, which affects weather patterns across the U.S.

Federal Way boosted its winter weather preparedness in 2007, spending $1.6 million on emergency snow and ice removal equipment. The city bought snow and ice removal trucks, emergency generators, a portable AM radio station and retrofitted traffic lights with backup battery systems and LED lights. For this winter, the city has $28,850 set aside for snow and ice removal items like deicing products, sand and overtime. But that's just a fraction of what it would cost to clean up a major storm: Streets Manager Marwan Salloum said a major storm in December 2008 cost around $132,000 to clean up.

If this winter is as bad as 2006 or 2008, the city can tap a contingency budget to pay for cleanup. Salloum said that Federal Way has no plans to purchase any new snow or ice removal equipment for the upcoming winter. Budgeting for snow removal is the same each year and not based on weather predictions, he said.

“We’re just trying to be as ready as we can,” he said. “We do the same things every year because we don't know if we're gong to have a bad winter or not.”

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