- Associated Press - Thursday, December 11, 2014

SEATTLE (AP) - High winds and heavy rains are expected this time of year in Western Washington. The thing that made Wednesday’s storm unique was the warmth.

Temperatures climbed into the 60s in the Puget Sound region and hit a record 66 at Sea-Tac Airport, the National Weather Service reported.

That’s a record for any December day going back to 1945 when record-keeping began at the airport, said meteorologist Art Gaebel at the weather service office in Seattle.

The wind and rain come from the tropical weather system hitting the whole West Coast, he said.

One gust Wednesday near Cape Flattery on the north Washington coast hit 71 mph. Bellingham in northwest Washington had a 60 mph gust.

Inches of rain, especially in the Olympics and Cascades, have filled rivers and led to flood watches and warnings in many Western Washington counties. No major flooding was expected, Gaebel said.

Firefighters rescued eight people from two homes Wednesday evening in the small community of Brinnon on Hood Canal after they were trapped by rising waters from a nearby river, said Keppie Kepplinger, Jefferson County Emergency Management deputy director. The Olympic Peninsula town is about 25 miles west of Seattle.

A Wednesday evening mud and debris slide from a slope adjacent to the main rail line between Seattle and Everett has halted passenger train traffic in the corridor until Friday evening, BNSF Railway spokesman Gus Melonas said. Crews responded to clear the debris. Freight train disruption was expected to be minimal.

After a lull, another storm expected to bring more strong winds was forecast to develop over Oregon, then spread north over Western Washington by Thursday evening.

Sunbreaks and a few showers were forecast for Friday.

Scattered power outages were reported Wednesday from southwest Washington all the way to Bellingham.

The storm has hit the coast the hardest.

At the aptly named Washaway Beach on the southwest Washington coast, KING-TV reported that two houses collapsed into high water Tuesday as the land beneath them eroded. Neighbors moved valuables out of their houses as a precaution.

According to the state Department of Ecology, the area south of Westport along Cape Shoalwater has been eroding at about 100 feet per year for the past century. More than two dozen homes were lost or relocated from there in the 1920s, and more than 150 homes have been wiped away since the beach was developed in the 1960s.

Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency in five counties Wednesday to help with emergency repairs to roads damaged in recent storms.

The proclamation allows the state Transportation Department to seek federal money for roadway damage that occurred between Nov. 25 and Dec. 1. It covers Clallam, Jefferson, King, Skagit and Whatcom counties.

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