Windblown dust leads to health alert from Mat-Su Borough

Mike Dunham
Bill Roth

Dust stirred up by winds hitting Palmer and Wasilla has triggered a health warning from the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

"Children, the elderly and persons with existing heart or lung disease should stay indoors and reduce physical activity," reads a press release from the borough. "The general population should avoid vigorous outdoor activity."

The problem arises from the lack of snow cover this year, said Frankie Barker, an environmental planner with the borough. Powder-dry glacial silt from river valleys is exposed to the winds that often blow into the lower elevations from the mountains.

"Right now, out my window, there's a dust cloud rising up to the middle of Pioneer Peak," Barker said. "It's visible when you're driving, blowing across the roads."

Winds have been gusting between 25 and 50 mph as of Thursday morning and are expected to hit 60 to 80 mph by afternoon, continuing through Friday afternoon before subsiding somewhat over the weekend.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Anchorage station predicts that winds up to 35 miles an hour will hit Anchorage by Thursday afternoon or evening and continue into the weekend.

Updates on the Mat-Su alert will be available by calling 907-352-3878.


Reach Mike Dunham at or 257-4332.