updated 11/16/2006 9:54:17 AM ET 2006-11-16T14:54:17

Rain and wind again battered the Puget Sound region, leaving tens of thousands of people without power and setting a rainfall record in Seattle as authorities began assessing the damage from floods last week.

The storms hit Wednesday as state and federal emergency management officials began touring areas hit hard by flooding that killed two, forced hundreds of people from their homes and damaged structures throughout Western Washington.

The new storms packed less rain but stronger winds, blowing down trees, closing roads and bridges and leaving roughly 150,000 homes and businesses without electricity.

Puget Sound Energy, the state's largest utility, reported 30,000 customers still in the dark early Thursday, mostly in the northwest part of the state, and spokeswoman Dorothy Bracken said some might not get power again until Saturday. Repair crews were being summoned from as far as California and Colorado, she said.

At the peak the utility had about 135,000 customers without power as winds gusted to more than 70 mph, Bracken said.

A blown-down tree blocked the northbound lanes of Interstate 5 for a time near Bellingham, and State Route 104 was closed for several hours over the Hood Canal floating bridge between the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas.

With rainfall largely ending by daybreak Thursday, National Weather Service flood warnings remained in effect for mostly minor overflows of the Skagit River from Concrete to Sedro-Woolley and the Puyallup River near Orting, southeast of Tacoma.

The latest rains raised the total for the month to 11.63 inches at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport as of 8 p.m. PT Wednesday, breaking the old record of 11.62 inches set in November 1998, the National Weather Service reported.

Halfway into November, it's the sixth wettest month in the city's recorded history. No. 1 was December 1933 with 15.33 inches at the old downtown Federal Building.

Storm expected Sunday
A storm packing rain and wind similar to that of Wednesday is expected on Sunday, and Clifford Mass, a University of Washington meteorologist told The Seattle Times the end of November is historically the stormiest time of the year in the region.

"The jet stream is basically moving right over us," he said. "We're right in the storm track."

Local, state and federal teams ventured into the stormy weather Wednesday to examine damage to private property in this town east of Tacoma. Preliminary assessments also began in King County, which includes Seattle, and surveys were set to begin Friday in Snohomish County.

In the Snoqualmie River basin east of Seattle, the teams included representative from the state, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Small Business Administration and King County emergency management department.

Results will be forwarded to Gov. Chris Gregoire, who may use them to help decide whether to ask President Bush to declare parts of the state a federal disaster area and thus eligible for federal cleanup and rebuilding assistance, said Rob Harper, spokesman for the state's Emergency Management Division.

A state of emergency was issued for 24 counties last week.

There was excessive flooding along the Puyallup, Carbon and White rivers in Pierce County and at one point more than 1,500 people were evacuated from their homes.

On Tuesday, the Pierce County Department of Emergency Management issued a preliminary report of more than $40 million in damage to private property, with at least 175 residential properties and nine businesses affected.

In Snohomish County, flood damage to personal property is estimated between $3.3 million and $3.5 million, said Chris Badger, the county's deputy director of emergency management.

No damage estimates for King County were available as of early Thursday.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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