2 killed, 300,000 without power in Northwest wind storm

Of the Associated Press

SEATTLE (AP) — At least two people have died and hundreds of thousands had no power on Tuesday as a severe storm packing high winds unleashed across the Northwest.

Police said a woman in her 50s was killed when a tree toppled taking down power lines as it fell in Spokane on Tuesday afternoon. Fire crews were unable to resuscitate the woman.

A man in his mid-20s was killed when a tree crushed his car as he was driving near Sultan in Snohomish County. The tree landed on the car's roof directly over the driver's seat, killing him instantly, said Fire Chief Merlin Halverson. The identities of the woman and man were not immediately released.

Puget Sound Energy reported over 214,000 customers without power in its Western Washington region Tuesday evening as trees toppled onto roadways and power lines. An electrical power failure at a Tacoma sewer treatment plant resulted in waste water sewage discharging for a short time into the lower Puyallup River.

Two mudslides were blocking Highway 2 between Skykomish and Deception Falls, the state Department of Transportation said. Ferry trips were delayed or canceled in several areas and Sound Transit trains were delayed due to trees and water on the tracks throughout the system.

Area rivers were also flooding from the Snohomish River near Monroe to the Snoqualmie River in King County.

The Washington State Patrol closed Interstate 90 between the towns of George and Vantage in central Washington after winds whipped up a dust storm that blotted out any visibility.

The National Weather Service issued a windstorm warning that began noon Tuesday and ran until midnight for most of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho.

The Weather Service said a Pacific storm system was arriving Tuesday afternoon, with sustained winds of 45 mph and with gusts up to 70 mph in certain areas including Spokane. Rattlesnake Mountain, a 3,500-foot ridge that overlooks the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in southwestern Washington, saw wind gusts as high as 113 mph, the Tri-City Herald reported (http://goo.gl/cmSEN6).

Energy company Avista Corp. said more than 113,000 customers had lost power as of Tuesday evening around Spokane and in Northern Idaho. Flights into and out of Spokane International Airport were canceled or delayed Tuesday evening. Residents in that area were urged only to call 911 for a life-threatening emergency.

The Cheney and Spokane campuses of Eastern Washington University closed Tuesday afternoon because of high winds. Employees of Spokane County and the city of Spokane were also sent home early.

Fallen trees were reported in the Spokane area and a roof collapsed at a Spokane business.

The National Weather Service said the storm also brought heavy snow to the Methow Valley in north-central Washington.

In Oregon, thousands were reportedly without power in the greater Portland area and a flood watch was issued for the northern Oregon coast through Wednesday.

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