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.”
Updated 12:31 a.m.
Tens of thousands of people were without power in Oregon and Washington on Saturday as the storm made landfall after gathering intensity off the coast.
Trees and power lines snapped as a powerful storm bearing the remnants of a Pacific typhoon hit the Northwest.
The National Weather Service said winds gusted above 50 mph in the Portland area, and strong winds and heavy rain squalls were hitting the Seattle area Saturday night.
“We’ve definitely seen a good round of strong wind, with gusts along the coast anywhere from 60 mph to 80 mph in some of the more exposed parts, and 50 to 60 mph in the Portland area,” said Matthew Cullen, a meteorologist with the agency. “There’s scattered damage.”
The National Weather Service said gusts around Seattle would probably top out at about 50 mph, weaker than initially feared, but still strong enough to do some damage.
The strongest winds would hit Seattle from about 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The Washington Department of Transportation said trees came down on Interstate 5 near Olympia, blocking the right lane.
No injuries had immediately been reported Saturday.
Updated 3:03 p.m.
Gusts along the central Oregon coast were already reaching 55 to 63 mph by late morning, when localized power outages were reported in at least two beach towns, and they were expected to hit upward of 80 mph Saturday afternoon, said agency meteorologist Tyree Wilde.
“Things are just starting to get going,” Wilde said. “This thing has the potential to be a pretty damaging windstorm.”
Inland, the winds are forecast to be weaker at 50 to 60 mph, but still strong enough to knock down trees and cut power to thousands. The damage could be exacerbated because many trees still have their leaves, and thus catch more wind and are more likely to topple, Wilde said.
In the Seattle area, there will now be 25-40 mph winds with a maximum of 60 mph from 6 to 9 p.m.
Updated: 9:20 a.m.
Weather models remain unclear on the track of the storm and its severity. High winds will hit the coast and northern Washington at 30-45 mph, with gusts up to 55 mph, according to National Weather Service. Expect winds to pick up in Seattle around 3 p.m.
Updated: 9:21 p.m.
The Coast Guard and other agency officials near Port Angeles, Washington, had made the first of several trips to rescue 40 teenagers and six adults who became stranded at an outdoor recreation camp after they lost power and downed trees blocked their way out.
It’s estimated it will take about six trips and nearly six hours, to get everyone out of the camp and to a waiting bus, according to U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Ali Flockerzi.
No injuries have been reported.
The National Weather Service in Portland, Oregon, are urging people to stay off roads as multiple streets in the city were flooded and impassable after heavy rains hit the area.
Updated: 5:25 p.m.
In West Seattle, a 4-year-old boy and his father were injured by a falling tree branch. The Seattle Fire Department said the child suffered serious injuries and the father minor injuries.
The sky has cleared up in the afternoon, but there are traffic delays as damage from fallen trees block roads and hit power lines.
At this point, National Weather Service says to prepare yourself and your family for a significant windstorm on Saturday.
Updated 2:22 p.m.
Meteorologists are still expecting one of three outcomes for Saturday’s storm. The worst case scenario is a direct hit from the Southwest.
Tillamook County Sheriff Andy Long says two businesses are confirmed destroyed and one home is uninhabitable. He says other homes have roof damage.
No injuries have been reported.
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.
Bellisle reported from Seattle. Associated Press writers Alina Hartounian in Phoenix, Gene Johnson and Lisa Baumann in Seattle, Kristen Bender in San Francisco, Scott Sonner in Reno, Nevada, and Rebecca Boone in Boise, Idaho, contributed.