Alaska News Nightly: September 18, 2012

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2012 PFD Will Be $878

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

Revenue Commissioner Bryan Butcher announced the amount of the Permanent Fund Dividend this morning at a news conference in Anchorage. After keeping the audience in suspense for a few minutes, he finally opened a sealed yellow envelope.

Energy Relief Is Not Accompanying PFD

Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks

The annual PFD could have been accompanied by energy relief for Alaskans, but the idea died before it ever made it to Governor Sean Parnell’s desk last spring.  Two Interior democrats say Parnell could still call a special session later this fall to address the state’s energy crisis.

Jack-Up Rig ‘Endeavor’ Lowers Legs Into Kachemak Bay

Aaron Selbig, KBBI – Homer

Buccaneer Energy’s jack-up rig “Endeavor” was originally supposed to be in Kachemak Bay for only six days before moving on to drill near Tyonek on the west side of Cook Inlet.  Due to work being done to the massive rig, however, it has been in place outside the Homer harbor for almost a month. And now, the rig has done something that is normally not allowed in Kachemak Bay – it has lowered its 410-foot legs down to the sea floor.

Wind, Rain Event To Hit Southcentral, Prince William Sound

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

Another wind and rain event is going wallop Southcentral Alaska starting Wednesday morning. The National Weather Service is forecasting high winds to peak on the hillside and along Turnagain Arm by late morning with winds up to 85 miles per hour and gusts to 110 miles per hour. The storm will hit east Anchorage by early afternoon with winds peaking at 45 to 60 miles per hour. National Weather Service lead forecaster Shaun Baines says the good news is, the storm won’t last long.

“We expect the winds to rapidly diminish late tomorrow afternoon into the evening such that we’re going to be back to a light and variable situation by 7 or 8pm tomorrow evening. So it’s looking like for the lowlands at least a very short duration event,” Baines said.

Anchorage could see up to 3.5 inches of rain over the next three days. The same system is likely to bring even heavier rain to Prince William Sound. Rivers near Cordova are already swollen, especially the Eyak river. The Resurrection River in Seward could also flood, depending on how the storm tracks.

Baines says the long term outlook shows the Anchorage area should have a break from the wind after tomorrow. But the rain will not let up for Prince William Sound. He says a funnel of moisture from the sub tropics is pointed right at Southcentral Alaska.

The hydrologists say the storm pattern is reminiscent of 2006, when record flood levels were set in Cordova and Seward.

Tanacross, Dot Lake Still Without Power After High Winds

Tim Ellis, KUAC – Fairbanks

Line-repair crews have restored power to most of the Tok area, and work continues in Tanacross and the Alaska Highway community of Dot Lake, which are still blacked-out due to damage inflicted by Sunday’s storm.

About 300 homes were still without power as of this morning – and probably will be for the rest of the week in several areas around Tok.

Scientists Look For Clues Causing Record Arctic Ice Melting

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

The Arctic sea ice will hit its minimum any day now and freeze up will begin again. But the extent of this summer’s melt has already smashed the previous record set in 2007. Scientists are starting to draw a link between Arctic ice retreat and unusual weather around the world.

Jennifer Francis, a Research Professor at Rutgers University, is immersed in this emerging area of science. She says Arctic ice melt is altering the jet stream waves that govern weather patterns, causing them to move more slowly.

Judge Throws Out Lawsuit Challenging Wishbone Hill Permits

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

Last week, federal judge John Sedwick dismissed a lawsuit over Usibelli Coal’s mining permits for the Wishbone Hill mine near Sutton. The suit had been filed in federal court in May by groups opposed to the mine. Judge Sedwick granted a request by Usibelli to dismiss the case.

Sitka Adds Teacher To Keep ‘K’ Classes Small

Ed Ronco, KCAW – Sitka

Baranof Elementary School in Sitka has more kindergarteners than it planned for this year. As a result, district officials hired an extra teacher, just five days before the start of school.  They say the scramble was worth it, as the first days of school are among the most important in a student’s education.

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