Strong winds knock out power to thousands in Anchorage and Mat-Su

Windy weather that began late Wednesday knocked out power to thousands of residents and businesses around Southcentral Alaska, and outages continued through Thursday evening.

The system spun up south of Cook Inlet and moved into the Susitna Valley by Thursday morning, leading to gusts over 90 mph at Arctic Valley, over 80 mph on the Anchorage Hillside, and close to 60 mph in the Anchorage Bowl, according to the National Weather Service. A peak wind gust of 69 mph was measured around 1:30 a.m. at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

The storm brought some snow to Anchorage early Thursday, especially during the morning commute, but slowed in midmorning, meteorologist Nick Morgan said. Drivers reported hazardous conditions on roads in town and in Mat-Su.

By Thursday evening, Chugach Electric Association reported 1,800 members still without power following heavy snow and “significant challenges” Wednesday night into Thursday including downed power lines and pole fires. The utility reported a peak outage involving about 5,900 members late Wednesday. Crews were expected to continue working through into the night, Chugach officials said.

Matanuska Electric Association by Thursday evening reported about 270 members without power, down from a peak of more than 2,880.

Storm reports around the region ranged from 1 or 2 inches in Eagle River to about 5 inches in the Abbott Loop area to 10 inches in Sutton and 15 inches at Amber Lake in Mat-Su.

The Richardson Highway was closed from Mile 19 to Mile 46 for several hours on Thursday due to blizzard conditions, according to the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. The highway reopened Thursday evening.

Heavy snow on the Kenai Peninsula led to school closures in the Seward and Moose Pass areas and a two-hour delay in the Homer area. In Mat-Su, schools in the Upper Susitna Valley shifted to remote learning due to poor road conditions.