High winds across Southcentral Alaska reach 72 miles per hour

Winds out of the north hit the Anchorage bowl at speeds of up to 42 miles per hour Sunday night, according to the National Weather Service. Unusually cold air from the Interior and a strong pressure gradient drove winds across Southcentral Alaska, hitting the Mat-Su Valley 72 miles per hour and Kenai at about 50 miles per hour. 

Tim Markle, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said these strong winds are usually seen later in the season. 

“These are temperatures that are kind of more indicative of what you would see late December into January,” he said. “So we tend to get a lot of these northerly wind events more in the heart of winter than we do late fall. But it’s not entirely unusual [to see them now].”

On Monday, residents reported downed trees and the wind caused a barge to break from a mooring buoy near Ship Creek. “It’s drifted about about a quarter mile or so and it’s come come to rest on a small mud flat [in Cook Inlet],” Cook Inlet Tug & Barge president Jeff Johnson said Monday afternoon.

Johnson said there was no damage to the barge itself, which is used seasonally to move construction vehicles and pickup trucks. He said they plan to use tugboats to pull the barge back at high tide Monday evening.

Markle says winds are expected to continue Monday night and into Tuesday, though they should be calmer than Sunday night, reaching a high of just 25 to 30 miles per hour.

Chugach Electric reported some minimal power outages due to the weather — fewer than 200 members were affected and they were back online by Monday morning, according to spokeswoman Julie Hasquet.

“But as you know, with the wind that can change every few minutes. Trees come down on wires, and the wind can really cause a problem for electric utilities,” she said.

Hasquet recommends keeping phones and laptops charged in case of an outage and to maintain an emergency kit with a flashlight, batteries, medicines, pet food or anything else you might need if utilities go down. 

Kavitha George is Alaska Public Media’s climate change reporter. Reach her at kgeorge@alaskapublic.org. Read more about Kavitha here.

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