- Associated Press - Thursday, October 13, 2016

SEATTLE (AP) - A storm with potentially damaging winds was expected to hit the Northwest late Thursday and early Friday, but forecasters said it’s likely just a warm-up for a much more serious one over the weekend.

The National Weather Service said the strongest winds Thursday were predicted along the coast and the northwestern Washington, with gusts of up to 70 mph predicted. Gusts were expected to hit 45 to 55 mph in the Puget Sound region.

Officials warned of the potential for power outages because many trees still have their leaves, which means they will catch more wind and are more likely to snap. With heavy rains - the weather service predicted up to 10 inches along the coast by Saturday night and several inches in the lowlands - flooding was also a concern.

Utility crews were out Thursday cleaning storm drains to reduce the risk of flooding, and some communities began sandbagging.

Meteorologists said they expected a lull in the weather Friday before another system, a potential doozy with the remnants of a typhoon, arrives late Saturday. Art Gaebel, of the weather service, said that if it sticks to a worst-case-scenario path, Saturday’s storm could be one of the five worst recorded in the region, with winds of up to 65 mph in the Seattle area.

“It could be a little better punch, but it depends,” he said. “Worst-case scenario, it’s going to knock down a lot of trees. The ground will already be saturated.”

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