Alaska Digest

Posted: Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Two avalanches slide down Mount Juneau

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JUNEAU - Two avalanches were reported Monday morning on Mount Juneau, but there was no property damage or injury.

The first one slid at 9:15 a.m., and was spotted by a woman who was downtown, Southeast Alaska Avalanche Center forecaster Mike James said. A powder cloud formed as snow tumbled down the south-facing paths known as Chop Gully and Gnarly, above Gold Creek.

The second one hit at 9:30 a.m. at a popular ice-climbing path called Green Weenie, James said. Nothing was reported along the Behrends Avenue chute.

Avalanche danger remained high throughout the day, according to the center.

Warm air is approaching Juneau and a warming trend would increase the load on the snowpack as warmer, heavier snow fell atop colder, lighter snow, the center stated on its Web page.

"In addition, there will be more snow falling throughout the day and into night, possibly mixed with rain. This kind of loading is always a time for caution as our snowfall amounts have been sizable recently," the center said.

Minor quake hits north of Juneau

JUNEAU - A magnitude 4.2 earthquake struck at 9:06 a.m. Monday about 35 miles north of Juneau.

The earthquake was felt in Juneau and Haines, though it did not cause any damage, said Alec Medbery, physical scientist with the National Weather Service. It was "much too small" to cause a tsunami, he said.

Small earthquakes are fairly common in Southeast Alaska along the Queen Charlotte-Fairweather Fault system.

Kenai River towns may push for cleanup

ANCHORAGE - Municipal governments along the Kenai River may band together to push for cleaning up the water body damaged by fuel from outboard motors.

Soldotna and the Kenai Peninsula Borough have tentatively agreed to form a river cleanup committee with the city of Kenai.

The group would push the state to address the river's long-standing fuel pollution problem. It could also recommend local measures to keep boats from fouling the water.

Kenai City Councilman Joe Moore proposed a city ordinance restricting polluting two-stroke motors from city boat ramps. He backed off on that measure, he said, in part because Kenai controls only the river's mouth and could not solve the problem alone.

"The only answer was to get everybody on board," Moore said.

Kodiak hiker saved from fall by a tree

KODIAK - A tree saved a Kodiak man from taking a 40-foot fall after he lost his footing and nearly toppled over a cliff.

Luke Nymeyer, 23, suffered broken bones after he slid down a hill and crashed into the tree Sunday.

Nymeyer and a friend, Ryan Boudreau, were hiking near Artillery Hill when he slid and began a 200-yard tumble that briefly knocked him unconscious.

Rescuers had difficulty locating Nymeyer, but finally pulled him out. He was transported to Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center where he remained Monday.

Nymeyer was rescued by Coast Guard firefighters and others, including Alaska State Troopers. He also is a firefighter for the base fire department.

"We were rescuing one of our own," fire chief Jeff Holcomb said.

Nymeyer's mother, Susan, said her son's injuries are serious, but no long-term damage is expected. She said Boudreau, a North Star Elementary School teacher, kept watch over her son until rescuers arrived.

"He just slipped and fell," Holcomb said. "The tree saved his life, and it was a good thing they had cell phones."

Blast at home injures North Pole woman

FAIRBANKS - A North Pole woman survived an explosion in her home but remains in critical condition at an Anchorage hospital.

Gaylene Jones, 35, is in critical but stable condition at an Anchorage hospital, her sister, Elaine Swenor, said Sunday.

The explosion rocked Jones' home at about 1:30 p.m. Thursday. Jones was alone.

The cause is still under investigation, but fire officials told reporters last week that it likely was caused by a propane tank that had been filled that morning.

A neighbor found Jones trapped under the roof of her house. She was taken to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital and flown on Thursday night to Anchorage.

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