Thousands regaining power after Southcentral windstorm
Several thousand people in Southcentral Alaska woke up without electrical power Wednesday morning, as utilities work to restore service following an overnight windstorm that swept through the region.
Chugach Electric listed about 330 people without power, almost all in Hope and Anchorage's Dowling Road area, on its online outage map at about 2 p.m. Wednesday -- down from about 3,000 at 8 a.m. Updates on the company’s Facebook page said the weather – which had been expected to produce up to 80-mph wind gusts at higher elevations – was “definitely having an impact,” with outages across Anchorage as well as in Hope, Tyonek and Moose Pass.
Municipal Light and Power had reported an outage on its Facebook page affecting almost 600 customers in Mountain View, due to a downed tree in a power line, with service restored by 10 a.m. Spokeswoman Julie Harris said ML&P had a peak of 2,300 people offline during the night from another tree-related outage.
"We work hard to trim all the trees and prepare for a storm like this, but when it gets really windy you can’t help what flies into a line," Harris said. "We had crews working out there in these dangerous winds, and they had to work in a fashion that was really safe."
A KTVA photojournalist saw traffic lights along Muldoon Road without power early Wednesday, with flaggers arriving to manually direct traffic. Anchorage police dispatchers said unpowered traffic lights had been reported in various areas across town overnight Tuesday.
Police spokeswoman Renee Oistad couldn't confirm that any crashes had been caused by unpowered lights, but urged drivers to approach them as intersections with four-way stop signs.
In the Mat-Su, a Matanuska Electric Association outage map listed about 1,000 members without power by 2 p.m., most of them in the Willow, Sutton Glacier View and Knik River Road areas. The co-op’s Facebook page said repair crews had been sent to Houston and Willow as of 2 a.m., for outages that took nearly 3,000 members offline at their peak.
The Anchorage area had been under a high wind warning, which expired overnight. Peak winds occurred early Wednesday in Southcentral. The maximum wind gust from the storm as of 5 a.m. was 68 mph, recorded at McHugh Creek, Potter Marsh, and Upper DeArmoun Road. Numerous gusts of 50-60 mph were reported on the Upper and Lower Hillside. Gusts of close to 50 mph were also reported in the Anchorage Bowl at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Winds will remain gusty through the morning hours, gradually weakening into the afternoon.
Heavy rain fell in parts of Southcentral on Tuesday as well. The heaviest rain fell in Prince William Sound and along the Kenai Peninsula coast, where 1 to 3 inches was recorded. Most areas in Anchorage saw about half an inch of rain. Scattered showers are expected to continue along the coast Wednesday, with isolated showers inland. Drier conditions are expected for the end of the work week, especially inland.
Outages can be reported to Chugach at 907-762-7888 in Anchorage or 907-478-7497 outside Anchorage; to ML&P at 907-279-7671; or to MEA at 907-746-7697 in the Mat-Su or 907-696-7697 in Eagle River.
Rachael Penton and Rick Rysso contributed information to this story.