News

Storms blow in for the season

Derrek Presnell, a Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services maintenance employee, holds a chainsaw and prepares to cut limbs away from the tree that blew over off Southwest Campus Drive near 10th Avenue Southwest during Thursday
Derrek Presnell, a Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services maintenance employee, holds a chainsaw and prepares to cut limbs away from the tree that blew over off Southwest Campus Drive near 10th Avenue Southwest during Thursday's windstorm.
— image credit: Jacinda Howard, The Mirror

Winds whistled and trees swayed Oct. 18 when Federal Way residents experienced the season’s first big storm.

The rain and wind signaled the beginning of the fall and winter storm season. The storm caused minimal damage in Federal Way. It also sent the city’s public works department into action, beginning Thursday night, clearing roadways of debris and safety hazards.

Weather advisory:

On Thursday, the National Weather Service’s Seattle office issued a wind advisory — described as sustained winds ranging in speed from 30 to 39 mph with wind gusts reaching 45 to 57 mph. Wind gusts at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport reached a top speed of 53 mph by mid-afternoon, said Pacific Northwest National Weather Service Offices meteorologist Dennis D’Amaco.

October marks a turn in seasons and generally the start of winds, rain and flooding in Washington state, D’Amaco said.

“This is the time we start looking for winter or windstorms,” he said.

Public Works employees, including Michael Swenson and Brian Lybeck, were called upon Thursday to begin combatting the damage caused by the storm as winds continued to blow. Their efforts continued well into the day Friday. At various locations along busy streets and in Federal Way, employees, some bearing coveralls and gloves, began cleaning the mess left behind by the windstorm.

Areas of destruction:

Swenson and Lybeck were among a minimal crew that cleared storm damage from areas such as Southwest Campus Drive, 21st Avenue Southwest, South 320th Street, Military Road, South 338th Street and South 327th Street Friday.

The damage the windstorm caused across the city ranged in severity, Swenson said. Trees fell on a fence and along the street on Southwest Campus Drive near 10th Avenue Southwest.

Here, Derrek Presnell, a Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services maintenance employee, cut limbs from a tree and pulled branches off one resident’s fence, which partially collapsed when the tree fell upon it during the windstorm.

Lybeck and Swenson addressed more fallen trees about a block east of Presnell. These trees did not cause damage to private property, but they cluttered up the sidewalk and surrounding areas.

The rain was falling and the ground became soggy as the men worked Friday.

But the weather did not seem to disenchant or distract them from their clean-up efforts. They smiled and continued on.

“We have a pretty good public works department,” Swenson said.

On Military Road, a broken power line, which was struck by an excavator in the 29600 block, caused one household to lose power and the road to be shut down for four hours, Federal Way Police Lt. Tracy Grossnickle said. The incident is thought to have been a result of the windstorm, he said. Nobody was hurt in the incident, Grossnickle said.

Overall, Federal Way fared better than some neighboring cities. Power was lost in parts of Seattle.

A kite surfer died on Lake Washington in Seattle, and a tree was blown onto a woman near Kent Station in Kent. Residents in other regional cities dodged tree branches and wind-strewn debris as well.

Contact Jacinda Howard: jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

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