Windstorms . . . "The Day the Trees Turned Dangerous"
The State of Washington has experienced many violent windstorms:
the Columbus Day Storm, November 1981 Windstorm, Inaugural Day
Storm, and most recently the Windstorm of 1995. These storms have
damaged homes, businesses, public utilities, and left thousands
without power for several days.
The Inaugural Day Storm of 1993 caused widespread damage from
Longview to Bellingham. The effects of this storm were significant:
- Five fatalities were documented.
- 870,000 customers lost electrical power.
- 27 single family homes were destroyed; an additional 189 homes
incurred major damages.
- 31 mobile homes were destroyed; an additional 45 incurred
- 4 apartment buildings were destroyed; an additional 15 incurred
- 16 Red Cross shelters opened across western Washington, housing
more than 600 citizens and serving more than 3,200 meals.
The Windstorm of 1995 was forecast well in advance by the National
Weather Service. This early warning gave state and local emergency
management offices, utility companies, communities, governmental
offices, schools, etc. time to prepare and brace for the winds
that arrived. Because this proactive approach was taken injury
and property damage was minimized.
The following are tips to take before and during a windstorm:
- Assemble a disaster supply kit, be sure to include extra batteries
and a battery-powered radio.
- Anchor outdoor objects such as garbage cans that can blow
- If you have an electric garage door opener, locate the manual
- Fill vehicles with gasoline in case local gas stations lose
- Stay indoors, away from windows.
- Do not drive in heavy winds.
- If traffic lights are out, treat the intersection like a four-way
- Turn off stove if you're cooking when the power goes out.
- Stay away from downed power lines.
- Use the phone for emergency calls only.
- If the power goes out keep refrigerator and freezer doors
closed to keep food frozen for two days.
- Do not use charcoal indoors.
- When using kerosene heaters, gas lanterns or stoves inside
the house, maintain ventilation to avoid a buildup of toxic fumes.
- Don't plug auxiliary generators into the main house current.
Use an extension cord for the appliances you want serviced.
If a windstorm is forecast in your area stay turned to your NOAA
(National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather wadio,
or local radio or television station for weather
Washington State Military Department, Emergency Management