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‘Summer is officially over’: First storm of the season brings high winds and heavy rains to Southcentral Alaska

  • Author: Tess Williams
  • Updated: August 30, 2020
  • Published August 30, 2020

High winds and rain are expected to hit Southcentral Alaska early this week, although meteorologists say the region will avoid the worst of a cold front that has already caused damage along the Aleutian Islands from hurricane-force winds.

In the Anchorage Bowl, the heaviest winds were expected to arrive between Sunday night and Monday morning, said National Weather Service Meteorologist Pam Szatanek. Gusts of up to 40 mph were expected to hit the city, although winds may be stronger near the Hillside neighborhood, she said. There was a 71 mph gust recorded Sunday in Potter’s Creek, Szatanek said.

“We’re expecting it to be breezy tonight, wet and windy here,” she said.

Winds of roughly 20 to 30 mph were expected to linger on Monday, according to a special weather statement issued Sunday.

Rain was also expected to hit the Anchorage area, along with most of Southcentral Alaska, Szatanek said. Parts of Anchorage could could see between a third to an inch of rain by the end of Monday, Szatanek said.

Heavy rain is expected to hit near Talkeetna from Sunday night until Tuesday morning, which triggered a flood watch throughout the Valley. Rainwater flowing off the Talkeetna Mountains could cause flooding in Willow Creek and Little Susitna River on Monday through Tuesday afternoon, the weather service said.

Areas around Talkeetna will likely get several inches of rain, and Szatanek said the Valley will also likely have rainfall early on in the week.

The storm system, which includes a cold front that stretches over 3,000 miles and into Japan, will likely bring rain to the Kenai Peninsula this week, also, Szatanek said. Seward is likely to see some of the most precipitation along the peninsula and will see at least an inch of rain early on in the week.

Szatanek said Western Alaska is expected to get the worst of the storm. Heavy winds and rainfall moving into Southwest Alaska from the Bering Sea could cause coastal erosion and flooding in low-lying areas, the weather service warned.

The low of the storm system was over Bristol Bay Sunday, Szatanek said. Hurricane-force winds hit Dutch Harbor early that morning and had knocked down a piece of the weather station’s equipment that measures wind speed and direction, she said. A gust of 120 mph was recorded in Dutch Harbor around 9 a.m. Hurricane-force winds start at 74 mph, Szatanek said.

“Whenever you stop getting readings from a piece of equipment that works really well, that’s a good indication that it’s a bad storm,” she said. “It’s pretty common that when you have a strong storm of hurricane force that it eventually takes it out.”

The weather service was still recording high wind gusts throughout Sunday from equipment at the Dutch Harbor airport, she said. Damaged roofs, flipped boats, tents blown away and a downed flagpole were reported in the area Sunday, Szatanek said.

The high winds and heavy rainfall could create challenges for pilots or mariners, she said.

Rainy weather is expected to continue throughout the week for much of Southcentral Alaska, the weather service said.

In Anchorage, Szatanek said Tuesday would likely provide somewhat of a lull before a second system moves into the area and brings more rain by Thursday.

The storm is the first of the fall season, she said.

“Summer is officially over,” Szatanek said. “Usually sometime in August... things start to transition into a fall pattern and this was really the first storm that just had all the dynamics there.”

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