Wind gusts to 106 mph knock out power from Wasilla to Hope

Anchorage Daily NewsOctober 28, 2013 

A windstorm pounded parts of Southcentral Alaska early Monday, knocking down trees and cutting off power for thousands of people from the Matanuska Valley to the Kenai Peninsula. A gust of 106 mph was recorded in Bear Valley, on the Anchorage Hillside, with a 105 mph gust at Glen Alps.

By evening, electric service had mostly been restored.

Crews from Matanuska Electric Association and Chugach Electric worked throughout the day removing trees from power lines and ticking off areas where customers could again turn on their lights. Between the two utilities, about 400 homes and businesses still remained in the dark early Monday evening.

"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," said MEA spokesman Kevin Brown.

Aside from the high winds, the Anchorage area was also hit with periods of heavy rain on Monday. Some minor flooding was reported around town.

Another storm is expected to move into the region on Tuesday evening, said National Weather Service meteorologist Tom Pepe. People should expect gusty winds and precipitation, he said, but "not as heavy as what we saw today."

At Butte Elementary School, a few trees went down, as did the power on Monday. Principal Dan Kitchin said that, luckily, the school's generator kicked in before the bell rang at 9:15 a.m., and the day could proceed as normal for students.

The highest gust in Mat-Su was 61 mph in Palmer, said Brown, the MEA spokesman.

For Trena Smith, manager of Vagabond Blues in Palmer, the 20-minute morning power outage at the coffee shop meant serving coffee by flashlight.

"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 started working 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 saw a few garbage cans that had rolled into the streets.

"Anything that could blow away blew away," he said.


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