High winds wreak havoc in the Valley
Palmer and the Mat-Su Valley are no strangers to windy conditions. Early Monday morning, the winds turned heavy causing havoc and mayhem throughout the Valley.
It was a windy night with wind gusts to 70 mph reported on the Glenn Highway near Palmer, 53 mph at JBER, 43 mph at Ted Stevens and 84 mph at Thompson Pass. It has caused some areas of the Mat-Su and Eagle River to go without power.
“In my house last night, it seemed like every 30 seconds waves were coming through the woods,” Derek Watkins from Wasilla said. “My house was rocking, just like we are now in the wind. Felt like earthquakes, my arctic entryway is getting peeled off right now, it’s crazy.”
Overnight winds throughout the Valley reached between 50 to 75 mph, causing trees to snap and fall on power lines. More than 700 people woke up in Eagle River without power.
“Was kind of weird to start school in the dark,” Eagle River High School principal Martin Lang said. “We have a good backup generator system but some areas were dark. We got by.”
Eagle River Elementary also lost power but relied on their generators. The same could not be said for the UAA Chugiak - Eagle River, which canceled day classes but reopened at 4 p.m. -- just in time for evening classes.
The Mat-Su Burrough landfill also was closed, which now delays garbage pickups. The Assembly meeting was postponed until February 27 because of the weather.
“The wind is a tad worse than normal,” Palmer resident Tammy Brehm said jokingly. “I’m just working on trying to stand in this. It could be worse, my daughter who lives down KGB was without power for about 12 hours which made it pretty cold.”
In all, nearly 1200 Matanuska Electric Association customers lost power due to the high winds.
“Not only are roofs being peeled off but shingles are flying around, too,” Patty Sullivan with the Mat-Su Burrough said. “Your cars also become irritants by mugging you, slamming doors into you, getting ripped off hinges. If you have a hatchback you get hit in the head.”
The winds will be high for the next couple days so be cautious on the roads and getting in and out of your cars, homes and businesses.
KTVA Chief Meteorologist Carlos Faura says winds gusts in Palmer were up to 56 mph by 3 p.m., and 38 mph wind gusts were reported in Wasilla. The windchills dropped the temps to single digits in the Valley Monday afternoon.
Strong northeast winds will lessen by evening Monday, but some gusts may push 55 mph.
Tuesday, expect to see 15 to 30 mph gusts in the Valley, while gap areas like Thompson Pass and Copper River Delta may see gusts up to 45 mph.
Carlos Faura contributed to this story.
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