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Powerful storm heading toward Southcentral Alaska

Laurel Andrews
A tree uprooted in the September 2012 wind storm that swept through Southcentral Alaska, downing trees and power lines. Will Anchorage residents face another bout of fierce winds on Monday? Christopher Kelliher photo

“Powerful storm on the way,” announced the National Weather Service Sunday morning, regarding strong winds and heavy rains expected to pound the area of Southcentral Alaska around Anchorage on Monday and Tuesday.

The storm is expected to form over the North Pacific Ocean Sunday night, and “rapidly intensify” as it approaches the Southwest coast of Alaska late Monday, NWS writes.

Likely impacts are fierce winds and heavy rain through much of Southwest and Southcentral Alaska Monday night and Tuesday, with the strongest wind concentrated along western Turnagain Arm and higher elevations in Anchorage and Eagle River.

With autumn colors just past their peak and trees still loaded with leaves, the storm could have a greater impact than it would have during the middle of winter. “The ground is not frozen and there are still leaves on the trees in most areas ... which could lead to down trees and power outages if these winds do occur,” NWS writes.

Rivers and streams are likewise expected to rise, and folks out enjoying the waterways should be on alert for conditions which may rapidly deteriorate as the storm moves overhead.

The storm may elicit flashbacks from Anchorage residents who recall the devastation of the windstorm of fall 2012 where gusts ranging from 40 to 90 miles per hour swept through Alaska’s largest city in early September, uprooting trees, downing power lines, and knocking out power to as many as 55,000 homes in the Anchorage bowl.

The Kuskokwim Bay area, where the river by the same name empties into the ocean in Southwest Alaska, may also see minor coastal flooding on Monday due to strong winds and high tides following at the back of the storm.

Meanwhile, in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands, a gale warning is in effect on Sunday and Monday, with winds between 25 and 35 knots expected for the central Aleutians and St. Paul island.

Contact Laurel Andrews at laurel(at)alaskadispatch.com, and follow her on Twitter at @Laurel_Andrews