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Winter weather causes minor problems

Posted: February 21, 2011 - 8:04am
Windblown snow freezes in a sideways pattern on trees atop Eaglecrest last weekend. A storm hit Juneau on Friday and Saturday and a winter storm warning was in effect until 3 a.m. today, according to the National Weather Service  Klas Stolpe
Klas Stolpe
Windblown snow freezes in a sideways pattern on trees atop Eaglecrest last weekend. A storm hit Juneau on Friday and Saturday and a winter storm warning was in effect until 3 a.m. today, according to the National Weather Service

The winter storm that dumped nearly six inches of snow at Juneau International Airport caused electricity to go out for about 11/2 hours in much of Juneau on Saturday, but the city otherwise remained relatively unscathed by the cold blast.

An insulator failed at about 12:15 p.m., causing Alaska Electric Light & Power customers in the Lemon Creek, Mendenhall Valley and Auke Bay areas, along with customers north of Auke Bay along Glacier Highway to lose power, said Gayle Wood, a spokeswoman for AEL&P. She said service was restored at about 1:45 p.m. for most customers, though the failure of two separate feeders in the Auke Bay area caused some customers there to lose power until about 2 p.m.

High winds Saturday forced the postponement of the Winter Fireworks Spectacular at Eaglecrest Ski Area, according to a posting on its website. The top of the mountain was receiving gusts of up to 55 mph, according to the website. The fireworks have been rescheduled for today. For more information, visit www.skijuneau.com.

Winds reached 35 mph at the airport Saturday, said Bob Tschantz, a forecaster at the National Weather Service’s Juneau office. The airport also received 5.7 inches of snow from midnight until 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Tschantz said, while the weather service’s office near Dredge Lake received about 8 inches of snow from midnight until 3 p.m.

Rapid snowfall, such as that experienced in Juneau on Saturday, “is a red flag indicator of building avalanche conditions,” according to an avalanche advisory issued by Tom Mattice, the City and Borough of Juneau’s avalanche forecaster. Avalanche danger in Juneau was listed as “considerable” in the advisory issued Saturday, but Mattice cautioned “(d)anger levels could quite easily raise to HIGH during the day (Saturday) depending on how much warming we see, and the loading rates from precipitation and wind.”

Mattice warned people to avoid places like the Flume and Perseverance trails and Thane Road. Eaglecrest will also be performing avalanche control this morning, meaning the mountain will be closed to hiking.

One outage in Juneau was not weather-related. KTOO was off the air as part of a regularly-planned outage from 9 a.m. until about 4 p.m., said John Cone, an engineer for KTOO. He said some snow in the station’s satellite dishes caused some minor interference with the feed from NPR, but that issue was quickly resolved.

A winter storm warning was in effect until at least 3 a.m. today, according to information available from the National Weather Service as of press time. Overnight snow accumulation was expected to be anywhere from 5 to 11 inches, according to the weather service. Mostly cloudy skies with snow showers and accumulation around 1 inch are expected today, with lows around 25 and northwest wind to 10 mph.

• Contact Deputy managing editor Charles Ward at 523-2266 or at charles.ward@juneauempire.com.

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