FAIRBANKS — A thunderstorm that ripped through the Two Rivers area east of Fairbanks early Saturday night left some residents without power for more than 24 hours.
Strong winds blew several big spruce trees onto power lines and knocked power out for residents between 18.5 Mile and 19.5 Mile Chena Hot Springs Road about 7 p.m.
Crews from Golden Valley Electric Association worked through the night clearing the trees, repairing damaged power poles and rehanging lines and transformers, said a dispatcher at GVEA. Crews were working Sunday afternoon and power was expected to be restored by 8 p.m. Sunday.
“It just tore down a bunch of trees,” the dispatcher said of the storm. “It was kind of a microburst.”
The same storm blew through Fairbanks, producing wind gusts up to 24 mph at Fairbanks International Airport, but the only other damage reported was some tree limbs blown onto power lines on Chena Ridge, the dispatcher said. Most of the electrical problems were confined to Two Rivers, he said.
Meteorologist Rick Thoman at the National Weather Service said the storm in Two Rivers was one of several to hit the area on what turned out to be the hottest day of the summer so far.
“There were thunderstorms all over the place,” he said. “It was just hit or miss.”
The storm in Two Rivers was accompanied by torrential rain and pea-sized hail that lasted about 30 minutes. A quarter inch of rain was reported in the Two Rivers area while only a trace of rain was reported at the airport, Thoman said.
The temperature hit 88 degrees, the highest temperature recorded at the airport so far this summer, just before the storm hit, Thoman said. The hot temperatures and high humidity combined to produce an impressive display of thunder and lightning.
More than 4,300 lightning strikes were recorded as a result of the storms, about half were recorded after 10 p.m. The lightning strikes were confined to a narrow band that stretched from the upper Tanana Valley across the northwest Interior.
The lightning strikes ignited at least 10 new fires in the Tanana Valley, prompting quick responses from the Alaska Fire Service and state Division of Forestry. None of the fires grew to more than 10 acres, and smokejumpers from the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center responded to each to assess the potential for spreading.