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Oho brings heavy rains, high winds to Southeast Alaska

A preliminary storm report from the National Weather Service says Hurricane Oho, which was expected to pass through Southeast and pound the region with rain, may have done a little bit of damage.

At 7:10 p.m. Friday, the NWS said the Ketchikan public utility reported power line damage in the north part of town due to fallen tree limbs.

Forecasters predicted significant rainfall for Southeast, as well as hurricane-force winds. A staggered series of high wind warnings were issued late Thursday and took effect early Friday for much of the region. According to the preliminary storm report, at one point wind gusts blew up to 76 mph.

Rain totals were not listed in the storm report, although the Ketchikan Daily News reported that 3.27 inches of rain fell by 7 p.m.

Aaron Jacobs, a Juneau-based NWS forecaster, said affected parts of Southeast had seen from 1 to 4 inches of rain by early Friday.

There was no warning in effect for Southcentral Alaska Friday night.

Jacobs said the northern turn of Oho, an ex-tropical low-pressure system, is one of just three that forecasters have seen in the last century. The most recent one took place 40 years ago.

"The last time a tropical system has made it this far north was 1975," Jacobs said. "There was one in the 1920s that moved up into this area, but we don't have much data about that."

Oho's turn was largely driven by "anomalous" water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, which has generated weather conditions that interact with the Aleutian Low -- a seasonal low-pressure system that often forms over the Aleutian Islands, he said.

"What's really causing this is how warm the sea surface temperature is, and that's driving a lot of weather activity in the Pacific," Jacobs said. "These systems can get wrapped into the polar jet and turn up into the Gulf of Alaska."

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