Hundreds in Southcentral still without power after windstorm

Anchorage Daily NewsOctober 28, 2013 

Update, 4:40 p.m. Monday:

About 250 Chugach Electric Association customers remain without power.
Spokesman Phil Steyer said power should be restored in all locations by the end of the day Monday.

The largest single outage affects about 200 people serviced by the Hope Substation. Steyer said crews have cleared trees from the line, but service has still not returned to the Sunrise area.

In the Rabbit Creek area, there are about 36 people still without power.
Update at  4:15 p.m. Monday:

The number of Matanuska Electric Association customers without power has decreased from 1,200 to about 250 as of late Monday afternoon, according to spokesman Kevin Brown.

Power has been restored in Birchwood, but remains out in parts of Chugiak, Eagle River Valley, Twin Peaks subdivision, the Goat Creek area and Sitze Road in Wasilla.

A portion of East Turnagain Boulevard from Spenard Road to Wiley Post Road has been closed due to flooding, according to Paul Vanlandingham, superintendent with Anchorage’s Street Maintenance Department. 

He said he hopes to have the road, which runs near Fish Creek, reopened  by 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

“You just got to allow time for the creeks to subside and as soon as that happens, it’ll get opened,” Vanlandingham said.

Update at  2 p.m. Monday:
Power outages continued Monday from Wasilla to Hope after high winds knocked out electricity overnight

Matanuska Electric Association reported about 1,200 members without power across all coverage areas, according to spokesman Kevin Brown. He said a majority are in Butte and have been without power since 3:30 a.m.

“We are clearing the area tree by tree to restore power house by house and block by block at this point, so it is a slow and methodical slog,” Brown said.

Chugach Electric Association estimated that 200 to 250 metered locations remained without power early Monday afternoon. Outages were  scattered from across the southern Anchorage Hillside to Cooper Landing,  with most concentrated in Hope, according to spokesman Phil Steyer.

Steyer noted that not all outages are storm-related. A car hit a utility pole around 11:45 a.m. near International Airport Road and Old Seward Highway. That cut power to more than 30 commercial locations, he said.

Local businesses and schools have relied on generators or innovation during the outages.
For Trena Smith, manager of Vagabond Blues in Palmer, the 20-minute power outage at the coffee shop meant serving coffee by flashlight Monday morning.

“It was just a slight delay for the early-morning people,” she said.

Smith said the lights turned off about five minutes after the store’s 6 a.m. opening.

“It’s kind of a common thing, so we usually serve what we can,” she said.

Over at the Fred Meyer in Palmer, the generators kicked in at around the same time, according to store sales director Stephen Longnecker.

He said he didn’t notice trees down in the grocery store parking lot, but on his way to work he said he saw a few garbage cans that had rolled into the streets.

“Anything that could blow away blew away,” he said.

A few trees went down at Butte Elementary School, according to principal Dan Kitchin.

The school’s generator was running before the bell rang at 9:15 a.m. The school regained power around 10:30 a.m., he said.

Other than that, it was just another school day, Kitchin said, with heavy rain keeping the students indoors for recess. 

National Weather Service meteorologist Tom Pepe said the next storm system is expected to enter the Anchorage area Tuesday evening and stay until Wednesday. People should expect gusty winds and precipitation, he said, but “not as heavy as what we saw today.”

 A small-stream flood advisory is in effect for the Anchorage area until 11 p.m. Monday, the National Weather Service said.

Celine van Breukelen, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service’s River Forecast Center, said there’s minor flooding reported at Chester Creek. The last observation report had the creek at 4.42 feet, it’s considered at flood stage at 4 feet.

“It’s more like people have to work around it, but it’s not life changing,” she said.

Original story:

Howling winds and downed trees overnight knocked out power to thousands of homes in Southcentral Alaska from Wasilla to Hope.

Matanuska Electric Association reported 1,400 members still without power at about 8:45 a.m. Monday. Scattered outages were in Butte, Sutton, Eagle River, Chugiak and Birchwood, as well as near Palmer and Wasilla. 

The first reports of outages to MEA came around 9:30 Sunday night in the Butte, spokesman Kevin Brown said. That outage was restored, but then a much larger wave of outages began early Monday morning from Eagle River to the outskirts of Wasilla, including a large outage in Palmer. 

As of 8:15 a.m., an estimated 400 to 500 metered locations on the Chugach Electric Association system remained without power.  The strongest wind gust reported at a Chugach facility at Glen Alps was 81 mph, according to spokesman Phil Steyer. 

The largest single outage affects 209 metered locations served by the Hope Substation, according to Steyer.

MEA and Chugach crews are working to restore power, both utilities said.

Observers recorded Anchorage wind gusts as high as 106 mph at Bear Valley at 5:39 a.m. Monday, according to Dave Stricklan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Another gust of 105 mph was recorded at Glen Alps at 3 a.m. A 78-mph gust was recorded at the upper end of Hiland Road near Eagle River, Stricklan said. 

The highest gust in Mat-Su was 61 mph in Palmer. The winds were blowing trees onto power lines and causing outages, MEA spokesman Kevin Brown said. 

“The problem we run into is while one tree falling on a line may take out power to a large area, there may be a hundred other trees that fall after that so the restoration process may take a considerable amount of time,” Brown said.

A small-stream flood advisory is in effect for the Anchorage area until 11 p.m. Monday, the National Weather Service said.

The same storm system has resulted in a flood watch for areas to the south, including Whittier and Seward, with up to 5 inches of rain possible through Monday.

CHECK BACK FOR UPDATES ON THIS DEVELOPING STORY. 

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