Widespread power outages reported as storm moves through Southcentral Alaska

Power outages greeted many Southcentral Alaska residents Wednesday as a storm brought fierce winds and heavy rain into the region.

National Weather Service meteorologist Luis Ingram in Anchorage said the morning's highest verified wind gust occurred at 7:59 a.m. in Glen Alps, where a trained spotter reported that a 90-mph gust knocked over a rain gauge. A gust of 103 mph was reported by an Upper DeArmoun Road monitoring station Wednesday morning, although the number was inconsistent with nearby readings.

Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport operations manager Terri Tibbe said a few cargo flights inbound to Anchorage were diverted to Fairbanks overnight, but Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Ann Zaninovich said none of its flights were affected. Low-level wind shears in the Anchorage area reached 65 knots, according to some departing pilots, Ingram said.

Chugach Electric reported several outages on its Facebook page Wednesday morning including about 1,900 customers in the Spenard and Muldoon areas, as well as nearly 1,000 people near Boniface Parkway. By noon, just under 900 Chugach customers were still without power.

"Here is the latest: 300 still out in the Huffman/O'Malley area, 430 in the Muldoon area and 165 in Girdwood," Chugach officials wrote. "Crews are working on all outages at this time."

Chugach spokeswoman Julie Hasquet said the utility deployed seven crews of linemen.

"Most (customers) are on the Anchorage Hillside, but about 165 of them are in Girdwood — there's a broken pole and transformer there, so that's going to be an all-day job," Hasquet said.


Hasquet said the downed Girdwood pole, in woods off Timberline Drive, had two transformers mounted on it and collapsed after trees fell on nearby power lines.

Neither the Weather Service's Anchorage office nor Anchorage police dispatchers had received reports of storm-related damage.

Ingram said wind speeds from the storm generally matched those forecast in the warnings, and that the storm arrived roughly when and where it was expected to.

"The storm system was a little bit slower in coming in — the core of the winds came in later overnight," Ingram said.

No Municipal Light & Power outages were reported overnight Tuesday, spokeswoman Julie Harris said Wednesday.

Less than 30 Matanuska Electric Association members, down from a peak of 3,300, were without power by 3 p.m. after about 600 people in Palmer lost power due to a downed tree. The utility had reported about 1,600 people without power earlier Wednesday in the Wasilla Fishhook, Willow Lakes and Caswell Lakes areas, as well as smaller Tuesday outages near South Birchwood and Trapper Creek.

MEA spokeswoman Julie Estey said nine crews, a mix of in-house teams and contractors, were working to restore power. Some in-house crews were being switched out after working for 24 hours straight.

"The system's hanging in there," Estey said. "We've had about 5,000 total outages, but for the wind we've had we think that's pretty good."

Residents in Fairbanks and North Pole reported power outages Tuesday night that Golden Valley Electric Association attributed to "a fault on the southern end of the Intertie" transmission line, according to its Facebook page. About 1,000 people, 500 each between the Salcha River and Midway and in the Delta area, were still without power as of 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Homer Electric Association said early Wednesday that 1,119 people in the Sterling, Nikiski and Funny River Road areas were without power, after a Kasilof outage affecting 649 customers was repaired.

By 11 a.m., HEA was down to roughly 100 customers still without power in the Sterling, Nikiski and Kasilof areas after restoring power to 150 people near Funny River Road.

High-wind warnings for the region expired at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Meteorologists had also been concerned about the possibility of flooding in the Seward area, which received 2.28 inches of rain in a 12-hour period overnight. Ingram said part of the Seward airport's runway had reportedly flooded, but he didn't have word on whether flights were affected.

Brenda Ballou, Seward's acting city clerk, said in an email Wednesday that crews were moving gravel to let water flow freely beneath the Lowell Creek bridge, with workers monitoring other areas not yet requiring a response.

"So far the general sense is the storm didn't hit us as badly as they predicted, at least overnight, but everyone is staying alert and ready," Ballou wrote.

Regional electric utilities will post updates on outages to their Facebook pages, listed below along with their phone numbers for reporting power outages:

Chugach Electric, 907-762-7888
Municipal Light and Power, 907-279-7671
Matanuska Electric Association, 907-746-7697 in Anchorage or 907-696-7697 in Eagle River
Homer Electric Association, 888-868-8243

*Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that 165 linemen were in Girdwood. It is 165 customers. 

Chris Klint

Chris Klint is a former ADN reporter who covered breaking news.