Storm cuts power, blocks road

Posted: Thursday, September 13, 2001

Power was out to more than half of Juneau on Wednesday night and this morning in two separate incidents related to high winds. Trees toppled onto power lines in the Lemon Creek area, and a branch was torn off a tree and blown onto lines in the Mendenhall Valley.

The first outage occurred at 10:11 p.m. Wednesday in the valley. "Around 7,000 customers were affected," said David Stone, spokesman for Alaska Electric Light and Power. Power was out for 32 minutes after protective relays de-energized the line, Stone said.

The second incident occurred shortly after 6 a.m. today and lasted about an hour. "It affected essentially the entire central area of Lemon Creek," Stone said.

Brian Bezenek of the National Weather Service said wind gusts last night approached 70 miles an hour in some areas. At the Juneau Ranger Station, near Fred Meyer, winds hit 67 mph. Winds were clocked at 60 mph at the Mount Roberts Tramway and 50 mph at the Juneau Airport.

Juneau received 1.23 inches of rain between Wednesday afternoon and 10 a.m. today.

Haines reported almost three times that amount, 3.68 inches, in the same period. Rain caused a slide at Mile 23 of the Haines Highway, blocking the road about 6 a.m. today, said Gary Hayden of the state Department of Transportation.

The road was reopened to single-lane traffic just before 11 a.m. today, said Pete Lapham, station foreman of the DOT crew in Haines. Crews are working to remove the rest of the slide, which is composed of gravel, 6- to 8-inch rocks and larger boulders, Hayden said.

Bezenek said the storm will continue moving moisture to the northern third of the Panhandle into the weekend, but with decreasing intensity. Wind gusts of 25 to 30 mph are expected. "This was a typical storm that came across the Gulf of Alaska, but it had a little subtropical moisture associated with it that gave it a little more juice."

A boat anchored at Norway Point near the Juneau Yacht Club sank last night, according to Betty Moore of the Juneau harbormaster's office. She said the Coast Guard is investigating.

Moore said given the rain and winds, boat owners should check today to see if their vessels need to be pumped and to make sure mooring lines are secure. The Juneau Airport also said small plane owners should check tie-downs.

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