Storm brings wind, rain to Southcentral

Anchorage Daily NewsSeptember 16, 2012 

A weekend windstorm largely spared the Anchorage Bowl from the downed trees and widespread power outages feared by storm-weary residents.

But the storm system was strong enough for winds of more than 100 mph to clobber portions of the upper Hillside early Sunday, including a gust of 120 mph recorded on an unofficial wind gauge in Bear Valley, according to the National Weather Service.

Scattered power outages were reported throughout the day.

The storm carried enough rain -- somewhere between a half inch and an inch in much of the city -- to swamp roadways, swell creeks and cause debris to clog storm drains, according to the NWS.

Chester Creek was the worst, with water lapping onto the Spenard Road bridge at Westchester Lagoon much of the day. The city cautioned residents against trying to clear clogged culverts with rakes on their own, lest they be swept into fast moving water.

High winds hit the upper Hillside early Sunday morning, said Weather Service meteorologist Andy Dixon.

"It started to rock and roll up there," he said.

The lower Hillside and East Anchorage saw peak gusts of between 60-70 mph Sunday morning, the Weather Service said.

The storm tapered off and hit a lull, including even the brief appearance of some patches of blue sky Sunday afternoon, before picking back up in West Anchorage in the evening.

The storm wasn't as damaging as it could have been, Dixon said. The last storm caused so much damage -- downed trees across much of the city and long power outages -- because high winds actually hit the flatlands of Anchorage, instead of exclusively whipping the mountains and Turnagain Arm as is typical, he said.

This time, the high winds never made it into the city in any strength, sparing more widespread tree-and-power-line mayhem.

"There was definitely the potential for damaging winds," he said. "Some subtle nuances kind of foiled us at the last minute."

Still, city residents prepared by charging their phones and laptops and clearing some store shelves of candles, water, flashlight batteries and other emergency supplies.

The storm left other parts of Southcentral sodden and eyeing rising rivers.

The Weather Service issued a flood warning for drainages coming out of the Talkeetna Mountains toward the Parks Highway.

But as of Sunday evening, fears that rivers such as the Kashwitna would flood onto the Parks Highway hadn't materialized, said Matanuska-Susitna Borough spokeswoman Patti Sullivan.

Borough emergency managers hadn't heard from any residents of flood-prone areas asking for help evacuating their homes, she said.

Some rivers were at what's considered minor flood stage, she said.

In often-sodden Cordova the Weather Service recorded 8 to 9 inches of rainfall, said Dixon.

"Time to build an ark, or at least get a paddle," the Cordova Times wrote to its followers on Facebook.

That might not be a bad idea for Anchorage residents: the same jet stream pattern that supplied the most recent storm seems poised to bring two much smaller systems into the Anchorage area this week, Dixon said.

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