Thousands await power as less severe Northwest storm fizzles
SEATTLE – Thousands of residents in the Pacific Northwest remained without power Sunday as the remnants of what was billed as a potentially apocalyptic typhoon began to fizzle.
Emergency crews in Oregon and Washington worked through the night to restore power lines and remove dozens of downed trees to clear roads that the storm had damaged over the past two days.
Meteorologists still expected rain and wind gusts as high as 30 mph throughout Sunday, but conditions were not expected to be as bad as predicted.
Here are some questions and answers about the storm that was originally forecast to be one of the worst in recent history.
WHAT WAS PREDICTED?
The storm was a remnant of Typhoon Songda, which had wreaked havoc in the western Pacific last week. Heavy rains and strong winds were expected when it hit land on Saturday.
Officials estimated 80 mph wind gusts in some regions as the storm moved up the Oregon coast early Saturday and eventually INTO Washington later that day. Residents were warned to keep off the roads, while parks and zoos were closed to help keep people inside.
WHAT WAS THE DAMAGE?
The 50 mph wind squalls were big enough to down power lines and toss tree branches onto streets and vehicles, particularly closer to the coast where winds were the strongest.
At one point, tens of thousands of residents were left without electricity. A spokesman for the Portland Bureau of Transportation told The Oregonian/OregonLive that the agency received more than 200 calls on Saturday about fallen trees, flooding and other issues.
No injuries have been immediately reported. A tornado brought on by a separate storm Friday hurt a 4-year-old boy and his father in Oregon when it dropped a tree branch on them in Seattle.
The storm brought heavy rain and wind as far south as Northern California.
WHY WASN'T IT SO INTENSE?
The National Weather Service attributed the weaker-than-predicted winds to the storm ending up with two pressure centers when it approached the Oregon coastline. Meteorologists thought it would only have one. This helped break up the intensity.
However, the subdued nature of the storm still has meteorologists puzzled. In a statement released late Saturday, the weather service said it would be studying the storm over the next few weeks to help better their forecast models.
"(When) a forecast does not work out as expected, it is frustrating as a forecaster. Weather science and model forecasts are getting better every day, but this is just another reminder that Mother Nature will always keep a certain level of unpredictability," the weather agency wrote.
WILL THIS CHANGE THE WAY PEOPLE REACT TO FUTURE WARNINGS?
It wasn't hard to find people joking on social media about the storm's lackluster performance. Several memes had already popped up Saturday and some Twitter users in Portland joked that they were just thankful they could still go to the farmer's market.
But the National Weather Service says that doesn't mean people should stop believing storm warnings.
"It's good to be prepared for any storm. Following warnings is just good advice," said Jay Nehler, a meteorologist in Seattle. "Sometimes forecasts are right and sometimes they're not — doesn't mean you shouldn't listen to them."