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‘One-two punch’ of windstorms bears down on Anchorage

Lanya Konyu and Sasipen Promma who are students from San Francisco experienced spindrift as they negotiate snow drifts while walking down from the Anchorage Overlook during gusty winds at the Glen Alps Trailhead in the Chugach State Park on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018.

Storms packing winds of up to 65 mph socked the Anchorage area and Matanuska Valley starting Sunday evening, the National Weather Service said.

Along with high winds, the storm is forecast to bring temperatures in the high 30s or low 40s.

“It’s a one-two punch of very similar storms with gusty southeasterly winds,” said meteorologist Tim Markle with the weather service’s Anchorage office.

By Sunday afternoon, building winds had caused scattered power outages and closed ski lifts.

Blowing snow from Southeast winds partially obscure Flattop Mountain in the Chugach State Park during the windstorm Sunday. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Winds coming from the southeast at 50 to 65 mph were forecast to peak by early Monday morning. The upper Hillside and Turnagain Arm could see gusts of up to 85 mph, Markle said.

Another front was forecast to move through the Anchorage area on New Year’s Eve, bringing gusts and temperatures into the upper 30s or lower 40s, Markle said.

Neither of the storms was expected to bring much moisture with it.

“Any precipitation we will see will be rain,” Markle said. “But it will be very isolated.”

From left, Hui Yu Lin, Jenny Hsu, and Shuping Chang experienced spindrift during gusty winds at the Glen Alps Trailhead and Viewpoint in the Chugach State Park on Sunday. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Chugach Electric reported 1,200 households out of power as of early afternoon Sunday in the Boniface Parkway area and smaller scattered outages.

“We have multiple crews working to restore power,” Chugach Electric posted on its Facebook page. “With the wind and snow, it is likely to be a busy day.”

Chugach Electric had restored power to that area by Sunday night, according to its Facebook page. Early Monday morning, a crew was still working to repair an outage in the area of O’Malley Road and Our Road, where 28 members were left without power Sunday.

Matanuska Electric Association also reported what it called “snow related” outages for about 385 households in the the Wasilla area on Sunday afternoon.

“The good news about the wind is as it blows the snow off it will help prevent snow loading outages in the future,” MEA posted on its Facebook page.

Most of those MEA outages were restored by Sunday evening. Early Monday, about 150 members were without power in the Cheri Lakes area and 250 members were without power in Big Lake, MEA said on Facebook. The Big Lake group was up and running again before 8 a.m.

Building winds put a damper on ski plans Sunday afternoon. Arctic Valley Ski Area announced it would be closing for the day on its Facebook page.

Hilltop Ski Area also announced the closure of its chairlift Sunday due to wind, but said its beginner Tudor Tow lift would be open.

On Sunday, Alyeska Resort in Girdwood closed its Glacier Bowl Express lift, accessing terrain on the upper mountain, and warned of wind holds on the tram “due to severe weather.” The resort on Monday opened with no lift closures and reported 24 inches of new snow as of midmorning.

Temperatures should cool to below freezing by midweek, forecasters said.

View of Anchorage and blowing snow at the Glen Alps Trailhead and Viewpoint in the Chugach State Park on Sunday. (Bill Roth / ADN)