Bainbridge Island, Kitsap County hit hard by unexpected windstorm

A dead Douglas Fir from the Grand Forest fell onto power lines along Miller Road near Tolo Road Tuesday afternoon. The tree has not been removed and traffic is being rerouted as of 5 p.m.   - Dennis Anstine
A dead Douglas Fir from the Grand Forest fell onto power lines along Miller Road near Tolo Road Tuesday afternoon. The tree has not been removed and traffic is being rerouted as of 5 p.m.
— image credit: Dennis Anstine

An unexpected storm with winds topping 40 miles per hour knocked out power across Kitsap County Tuesday.

Power to Bainbridge was lost when a tree fell on a transmission line on Miller Bay Road in Suquamish, and a second transmission line was knocked out by a falling branch in an unknown location on the island.

Puget Sound Energy spokeswoman Gretchen Aliabadi said those two lines, which originate on the west side of the Agate Pass bridge, carry all of Bainbridge’s electricity.

The lines travel along State Route 305 from the Port Madison substation, south to the Winslow substation, and from the Port Madison substation down Madison Avenue Northeast to the Murden Cove substation.

The simultaneous incidents knocked out power to all 11,760 customers on Bainbridge Island, Aliabadi said.

Bainbridge last experienced such a large-scale power outage in 2006.

Both transmission lines were knocked out at 1:40 p.m. Tuesday, one of which was restored by 3:30 p.m. At that point, it was just a matter of fixing up distribution lines to restore power to neighborhoods.

Power was not returned to all residents on Bainbridge Island until after noon on Wednesday. Some residents in the Murden Cove area spent Tuesday night without electricity, said PSE spokeswoman Dorothy Bracken.

“This is due to extensive damage to the power system,” Bracken said. “We are actually rebuilding parts of the power system.”

The windstorm not only took out electrical lines on the island, it wreaked havoc on the roads. The city recorded a number of incidents of downed trees and wires blocking roads, including Grand Avenue, Ferncliff and Miller Road.

On Miller, a large, dead Douglas fir tree fell across the road and took a number of distribution lines with it. The tree was located on the west side of the road in The Grand Forest.

Erik Sherwin, an employee of the Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Parks and Recreation District, was working on trails near where the tree fell Tuesday.

“I was working in the woods, and I saw a branch fly out of there like a lawn dart and I was out of there,” Sherwin said.

The fir was surrounded by several other dead trees that would be vulnerable in high-wind situations.

The storm, which caused somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 households countywide to lose power, came with little warning.

“In this instance there were no warnings or advisories for winds in effect at all,” said PSE spokeswoman Davina Gruenstein.

The winds snuck up fast and left chaos in their wake. But police and fire officials said no one was hurt in the storm.

At approximately 1:30 p.m. Tuesday state officials elected to close the Hood Canal Bridge as a result of the winds. The bridge was reopened after 3 p.m.

Johnny Burg, a meteorologist at the Seattle National Weather Service office, said the winds stayed around 30 mph with gusts in the high 40s. He said the worst of it was most likely over by the end of the day Tuesday.

“A cold front came through and brought a surge of wind. It should be starting to calm down,” he said Tuesday.

Gruenstein of PSE said this storm was unique in its intensity and duration. Though winds battered the entire Puget Sound region, the storm hit Kitsap the hardest, she said.

“The one very unique thing about this storm was how strong and how localized it was,” she said. “It was just Kitsap, and that’s very unusual.”

North Kitsap Herald reporter Tad Sooter contributed to this report.

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