High winds and tide spark road, ferry closures

James Wiaczek, foreman of the Island County Coupeville Road shop, talks on the phone while surveying the effect of today
James Wiaczek, foreman of the Island County Coupeville Road shop, talks on the phone while surveying the effect of today's stormy weather at Hill Road at Ebey's Landing. The road and several others around the island were closed to flooding.
— image credit: Justin Burnett / Whidbey News-Times

Powerful winds and high tides today forced the closure of several roads on Whidbey Island and disrupted service on the Port Townsend-to-Coupeville ferry route.

Bill Oakes, director of Island County Public Works, said the following roads have all been closed due to flooding: West Beach Road between Even Down Way and Swantown Road on North Whidbey, a section of Hill Road at Ebey's Landing on Central Whidbey, and portions of Shoreview Drive by Freeland Park, Woodard Avenue and Nichols Brothers Boat Builders in Freeland.Reports have also come in that portions of Madrona Way on Central Whidbey are also flooding.

In addition, the state Department of Transportation, Ferries Division, cancelled the 8 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. sailings between Port Townsend and Coupeville due to high winds. Vehicles and passengers are advised to take the Edmond/Kingston Mukilteo/Clinton routes for travel to and from the Olympic Peninsula and or Whidbey Island.According to Oakes, the number of road closures is the result of several converging factors."It's a high tide, a low pressure system and wind," Oakes said.

Today saw some of the highest tides of the year around Puget Sound, he said. The combination with strong winds and large waves, especially on the West Side of Whidbey Island, was the perfect recipe to flood roads.

Hill Road, which was closed at about 7:30 a.m., was so choked with driftwood and running water that it was largely impassible other than by foot. A National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration alert this morning forecast westerly winds between 20 and 35 mph with local gusts to 60 mph.

They are expected to diminish to between 15 and 30 mph with gusts near 45 mph by midday.

The strongest winds will likely be over Whidbey Island, especially the West side, which is exposed to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.Oakes said he expects all the closed roads to be reopened before the end of the day, but work crews could be busy for several more days cleaning up driftwood.



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