Rain-swollen Su Valley creeks threaten to flood

Anchorage Daily News / adn.comSeptember 19, 2012 

Updates from the storm hitting Southcentral Alaska on Wednesday:

Update, 7:20 p.m.: The Mat-Su Borough is recommending that residents in an area east of Willow evacuate because of rising water on Willow Creek.

This from Mat-Su Borough spokesman Patty Sullivan at 7:20 p.m.:

Evacuation recommended for Willow Creek residents along Shirley Town Road to Parks Highway

Willow Creekside Road is flooding

Deneki Road is compromised

The access to Willow-Fishhook may be cut off soon by water

The area of concern: Shirley Town Drive to Parks Highway along the Willow Creekside and Willow Fishhook Roads. The water is fast moving. You can stay put if you feel safe, away from water. But if you can stay elsewhere tonight, it's recommended.

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Update, 7 p.m.:About 250 Chugach Electric customers were without power as of 7 p.m. on Wednesday, said company spokesman Phil Steyer.

At the peak about 2,000 people were without power.

Scattered Wednesday outages in South Anchorage and East Anchorage and along the Turnagain Arm were caused by downed trees, he said.

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Update, 6:50 p.m.: School is cancelled for elementary, middle and high school students in Seward Thursday, according to a bulletin from the City of Seward.

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Update, 6 p.m.: Rivers and creeks in the Susitna Valley were rising Wednesday after continuing heavy rains, according to a dispatch from Mat-Su Borough emergency managers.

Some creeks and rivers were at minor flood stage or near it Wednesday. The biggest concerns were Montana Creek, Willow Creek and Moose Creek, near Talkeetna, according to the report. Moose Creek was beginning to spill over Oilfield Road.

Meanwhile, a levee at Yoder Road over Montana Creek in the Susitna Valley was severely eroded by rising water. On Wednesday night, emergency managers had rock on the way to fix the levee.

In Butte, volunteer firefighters removed nine trees from area roadways.

"The crews are reporting seeing 50' cottonwoods being snapped halfway up," the report said.

Mat-Su Borough spokeswoman Patty Sullivan sent this update:

Ten trucks loaded with rocks are heading north on the Parks Highway near Talkeetna to help protect a rapidly eroding dike on Yoder Road at Montana Creek by about 5:30 tonight. The levee protects a road that leads to some 30 homes. This is the area most in need during a wet, windstorm that has flooded some Mat-Su creeks, snapped 50-foot cottonwoods on roadways in Butte, and zapped power for 2,500 presently. The Borough continues its 24-hour watch and response in the Emergency Operations Center.

- Michelle Theriault Boots

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Update, 5:20 p.m.: Alaska Airlines is in the process of sending flights diverted to Fairbanks Wednesday due to stormy weather back to their original destination of Anchorage, says spokeswoman Bobbie Egan.

The five diverted flights are being launched every half-hour and will start arriving in Anchorage between 4-4:30 p.m., she said.

The airline has also cancelled a handful of flights out of Anchorage because of the storm.

Check online at alaskaair.com for current flight status updates.

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Update, 3:40 p.m.: The City of Seward declared an emergency Wednesday after heavy rains flooded area roads.

Officials say a number of roads are unsafe or have been closed.

Here are the latest advisories from the City of Seward:

- Seward Highway between mile 3.5 and 7 is under a traffic advisory but is open for limited travel. Use extreme caution. Water on the road.

- Exit Glacier Road is closed at mile 2.8.

- Portions of the Dieckgraeff Road are closed.

- Dora Way is closed.

- Phoenix/Chiswell Roads are closed.

- Port Road is closed, blocked at Alameda and Leirer and unsafe.

- Dairy Hill Lane is closed.

- A travel advisory has been issued for Lowell Point Road. Use extreme caution if traveling due to intermittent landslides.

No evacuations due to flooding were mandatory as of 2:45 p.m., but people living in the Old Mill Subdivision west of Lost Creek can call the city's Emergency Operations Center for help at 224-4041. A shelter has been established at Seward High School.

In the past 24 hours the town has received 4.36 inches of rainfall, according to the National Weather Service. Some 2.8 inches of rain has fallen in the last six hours alone.

A Weather Service flood warning that expires at 6 p.m. tonight will likely be extended, said spokesman Dave Stricklan.

"Not only you got (heavy rain) in Seward you got it up in the mountains and it's coming in to town," Stricklan said.

- Michelle Theriault Boots

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Update, 3:30 p.m.: Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Bobbie Egan said five flights bound for Anchorage today have been diverted to Fairbanks as they wait out the storm.

The flights - two from Seattle, one from Barrow, one from Nome and one from Chicago - had a total of about 500 passengers on board.

The airline is monitoring weather and waiting for an improvement before routing the planes to Anchorage, she said.

"It's currently not safe to fly into or out of Anchorage International Airport," she said.

Meanwhile, Chugach Electric said that as of 3 p.m. about 100 customers were still without power.

Crews had been working to fix outages at about 1,200 homes in the Rabbit Creek/Goldenview areas since morning.

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Update, 1:35 p.m.: Seven inbound flights to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport have been diverted because of weather as of about 1:30 p.m., said airport spokeswoman Trudy Wassel.

Two are Alaska Airlines commercial flights. The other five are cargo.

The airport is encouraging passengers to check with individual airlines for information on flight diversions, Wassel said.

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Update, 12:05 p.m.: The latest windstorm hitting Southcentral Alaska is expected to peak in Anchorage during the early afternoon Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

The high wind warning remains in effect until 6 p.m. for the Anchorage area. A flood advisory is also in effect.

Here's what to expect for the afternoon, according to Dave Stricklan of the NWS:

- Wind speeds will reach 50-70 mph, increasing to 85-110 mph on the upper Hillside.

- East Anchorage and the lower Hillside will see 20-40 mph winds with gusts of 50-70.

- Lower elevations of West and South Anchorage will see 10-25 mph winds with gusts up to 35 mph.

- On Turnagain Arm, winds are expected to peak at 110 mph.

Heavy rain is also part of the package. The potential for uprooted trees and downed power lines remains, he said.

At Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, a strong, sudden gust of wind damaged a construction trailer near Fifth and D streets, on the Fort Richardson side, at about 10:30 a.m., said base spokesman Luke Waack.

Part of Fifth Street is closed while crews remove debris. No injuries have been reported, Waack said.

-- Michelle Theriault Boots

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Update, 11:15 a.m.: Chugach Electric reported about 1,200 customers were without power at 10:30 a.m. Most of the outages had to do with problems with a feeder line out of a substation in the Rabbit Creek/Goldenview area, the utility reported.

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Original story:

A National Weather Service wind warning remains in effect for Anchorage until 6 p.m. today and a flood advisory until 6 p.m. Thursday.

Winds will pick up along Turnagain Arm and the upper Hillside through this morning, with gusts eventually peaking at 85 to 110 mph, the weather service says. On the lower Hillside and in East Anchorage and Eagle River, gusts up to 70 mph are forecast.

The rest of the Anchorage Bowl will experience winds of 20 to 40 mph with gusts to 55 mph by late morning and continuing into the afternoon, the weather service said.

In the Matanuska Valley, wind gusts up to 60 mph are expected to develop by late afternoon. Portage Valley is predicted to see gusts up to 85 mph developing this morning.

On Tuesday evening, the weather service said, a disturbance moving north over Cook Inlet surprised forecasters by bringing wind gusts up to 74 mph into the Anchorage area ahead of the main storm. The winds caused scattered power outages but had diminished over much of the city by midnight.

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