PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Widespread power outages darkened large areas of Oregon and Southwest Washington as a windstorm knocked down lines and brought wildfire smoke to the region. Approximately 115,000 customers of the major power companies in this area were without power Monday night. As of 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, there were still more than 48,000 customers without power.
A High Wind Warning was in effect through 1 p.m. Tuesday. Winds were expected at 15-25 mph with gusts up to 45 mph.
Tree limbs were knocked down, which in turn, downed the power lines they fell on. In some cases, the splintered limbs blocked roads in parts of downtown Portland and across the river on East Burnside. In one instance, a large oak tree fell just outside of a home in Southeast Portland.
“All of a sudden, we hear some crackling and then, kablam! It comes down,” exclaimed neighboring resident Kim Molina. “You can see sparks on the wires—it was crazy.”
“It was horrible,” said another neighbor, Joan Glass. “I was worried about the people in the house, for fear it might go through their windows. Luckily, they are all alright.”
The fallen oak nicked the house’s gutters and damaged the front edge of the roof before collapsing over a car parked in the driveway.
Portland Fire and Rescue reported that crews were busy Monday night responding to multiple calls of trees falling into houses and branches hitting pedestrians. Authorities said that, so far, there have been no serious injuries, but warned people to stay home as much as possible during the high wind event.
Across the city, residents experienced similar outages. About 60,000 other PGE customers lost power as of 8:30 p.m. as the winds picked up, with gusts expected to hit between 45 mph and 60 mph. By early Wednesday evening, that number was approximately 22,000 customers.
For the first time ever, Portland General Electric turned off the power for roughly 5,000 customers near Mt. Hood Monday evening, a preemptive measure to prevent wildfires.
Pacific Power initially reported 150 outages affecting more than 43,000 customers. Early Wednesay evening, they reported 148 outages affecting more than 17,000 customers.
The wind shifted out of the east and picked up a substantial amount of speed. That combined with very dry conditions with low humidity made for a dangerous combination, bringing wildfire smoke throughout Oregon, worried Portland General Electric and firefighters battling blazes throughout the state.