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Buckley bears brunt of winter wind storm

Jeff DuRussel with National Response Corporation (NRC) in Seattle helps Potelco crews replace the power pole near Main Street in Buckley. - To view or buy photos go to www.courierherald.com    Photo by Dennis Box
Jeff DuRussel with National Response Corporation (NRC) in Seattle helps Potelco crews replace the power pole near Main Street in Buckley.
— image credit: To view or buy photos go to www.courierherald.com Photo by Dennis Box

A snow and windstorm swept through the area Saturday and Sunday leaving snow drifts and icy roads with the most severe damage hitting Buckley.

The storm hit Saturday afternoon and continued through Sunday, putting an exclamation point on four previous days of wind, snow, freezing rain and frigid temperatures that were recorded in the teens and single digits in some areas.

Buckley was hit with the most damaging winds Saturday and Sunday. The front window in Chuck’s Drug on Main Street blew out, as did the business next door, Sefnco Technologies. A tree fell across Edith Street, which was cleared by the fire department.

A street light-power pole on state Route 410 and Main Street in Buckley nearly collapsed during the storm. The highway was closed Sunday morning while Sumner-based Potelco replaced the pole.

“Had we gotten the wind gusts that were predicted, we may have ended up in a lot worse shape,” Buckley Police Chief James Arsanto said. “We had a few cars end up in the ditch and in snow drifts, but nothing too serious.”

The Red Cross did open Buckley Hall for emergency shelter, but reported no one used the facility.

The wind speeds of 90 mph that had been predicted to hit Enumclaw missed most of the Plateau.

“We never got the winds as strong as predicted thank goodness,” Enumclaw City Administrator Mark Bauer said. “But we did have a lot of snowdrifts.”

Bauer said there were 5-foot high snowdrifts downtown. City crews worked most of the night Saturday and through Sunday clearing roads.

“We were pretty fortunate,” city of Enumclaw-King County 28 Fire Department Capt. Randy Fehr said of wind-related incidents. “Our concern was accessing people.”

Fehr said the storm proved to be a good exercise in preparedness.

Mutual of Enumclaw was set up as a Red Cross shelter with 50 cots, blankets and supplies and the city kept roads plowed, the department chained up trucks and the snowmobile team was on standby.

Cumberland was pummeled by winds, but, Fehr, said, “The folks out there are generally more prepared.”

Wind gusts in Cumberland unofficially were reported to reach much stronger than 70 mph and sent a tree across the road near the Cumberland Fire Station, which was quickly cleared.

The Washington state Department of Transportation closed state Route 165 at about 9:30 a.m. Sunday about one mile south of the Carbon River bridge near Fairfax Forest Preserve. A landslide and a 100-foot tree blocked the road. WSDOT reopened the road about an hour later.

Bonney Lake and Sumner reported heavy snow accumulations, icy roads and drifts.

“The main roads are in good shape,” Public Works Director Dan Grigsby said. “We are running three plows and we are sanding the steep slopes and intersections.”

Grigsby said the city had put 500 tons of sand on the roads in the city by Monday morning.

Roger Thompson from Puget Sound Energy said about 5,000 customers lost power Saturday, including people in Enumclaw and east King County and Pierce County. Thompson said all power was restored by Sunday.

The National Weather Service is predicting more snow for the area today, Wednesday, with highs in the low 30s, turning to rain for Christmas.

Brenda Sexton and John Leggett contributed to this story.

Reach Dennis Box at dbox@courierherald.com or 360-802-8209.

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