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Gustavus ferry terminal damaged in storm

NWS: More heavy winter weather on the way

Posted: December 19, 2013 - 12:12am

The Gustavus ferry terminal sustained minor damage to its vehicle transfer ramp after an intense winter storm Saturday. Alaska Department of Transportation spokesman Jeremy Woodrow said an early estimate of the damage is about $20,000.

“It was a combination of a severe storm with a higher than usual tide and the right direction of sustained wind,” Woodrow said. “We’re fortunate that ferry service was not affected.”

Woodrow said locals observed 12-foot waves during the storm, much higher than the 6 to 7-foot waves engineers predicted as a worst-case scenario when designing the terminal.

The dock was completed in 2010 with partial funding from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. The previous dock was 40 years old and didn’t allow for ferry service to the Glacier Bay community of approximately 440 people.

Woodrow said the dock was designed taking into account historical weather data. Saturday’s storm exceeded those numbers.

“That’s something they have to look into and see if there’s more data available (to see) how rare of an instance this really is,” Woodrow said. “Right now it’s too early to say.”

Bartlett Cove, just west of Gustavus, received “very impressive winds,” said Aaron Jacobs, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Juneau. Winds gusted to about 49 mph at Bartlett Cove and up to 47 mph at the airport. At Cape Spencer, about 50 miles southwest of Gustavus, winds gusted to 104 mph.

Southeast Alaska will experience another winter storm today. Jacobs said light snow will begin around midnight and will get heavier later in the morning and through the early afternoon. The areas around Juneau and Gustavus are expected to receive seven to 11 inches of snow by 6 p.m. this evening. While temperatures are currently rising, Jacobs said they will likely remain under 30 degrees and that slushy snow is not predicted.

• Contact reporter Jennifer Canfield at 523-2279 or at jennifer.n.canfield@juneauempire.com. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/canfieldjenn.

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