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2nd major wind storm hits Anchorage area

Posted: September 17, 2012 - 12:00am
A tree falls in front of a house along Pioneer Drive in east Anchorage, Alaska, on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. A massive windstorm uprooted trees, knocked out power and closed schools in Anchorage. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)  Mark Thiessen
Mark Thiessen
A tree falls in front of a house along Pioneer Drive in east Anchorage, Alaska, on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. A massive windstorm uprooted trees, knocked out power and closed schools in Anchorage. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

ANCHORAGE — A second major wind storm in less than two weeks swept through Alaska’s largest city on Sunday, but unlike the earlier storm, its greatest intensity was mostly on higher elevations where gusts as high as 120 mph were reported, weather forecasters said.

Chugach Electric said as many as 6,000 customers between Anchorage and the northern Kenai Peninsula were without power at the height of the storm. Power had been restored to all but about 900 customers, utility spokesman Phil Steyer said.

The outages are known or suspected to be caused by fallen trees, although not as many as the stronger storm earlier this month that downed hundreds of trees across the city. That storm blew a lot of leaves off branches, making “less surface area now for the wind to catch on,” Steyer said.

Era Aviation commuter planes were grounded Saturday evening, though only partially because of the weather. Spokesman Steve Smith said the statewide airline also learned recently that electronic components for cockpit voice recorders on its 12-plane fleet must be replaced to conform to federal regulatory specifications.

With moderate rains in the area, the National Weather service issued a flood warning for Anchorage’s Chester Creek.

The storm turned out to be less dramatic than expected in the lower elevation Anchorage bowl, with the fiercest winds concentrated in higher elevations, such as the Hillside area and Turnagain Arm south of town.

“It looks like we’re dodging a bullet in the bowl,” weather service meteorologist John Papineau said.

For Anchorage police, the storm brought far fewer calls than the last one, with just a few reports of downed trees and of two flooded intersections, dispatcher Eric Anderson said.

“It’s pretty uneventful so far,” he said. “We’re pretty happy about that.”

With weather service instruments in some of the windiest spots knocked out by the earlier storm, the agency was relying on wind measurements taken by weather enthusiasts, meteorologist Emily Niebuhr said.

The storm, whose long front has stretched over much of south-central Alaska, was expected to shift to the east and diminish later Sunday, Papineau said.

More rain was expected early in the week, he said.

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