Gusts lash Juneau; tree tears up house

Wind speed reported to be 45 mph at federal building downtown

Posted: Friday, September 24, 2004

A 100-foot hemlock tree crashed into a house on Glacier Highway near Twin Lakes Thursday morning after high winds whipped through the area.

The tree hit a two-story wood frame home owned by Bruce Brunette. It damaged a one-bedroom apartment above the garage that Brunette had just prepared to rent, he said. No one was injured.

"I was a little frustrated about it, but getting upset now doesn't do any good," Brunette said.

Recent development and tree cutting in the neighborhood exposed the tree to wind, he said.

Wind speeds were recorded at 45 mph at the federal building downtown and 37 mph at Juneau International Airport Thursday morning, said Pete Rahe, a hydrometeorological technician with the National Weather Service in Juneau.

Brunette's daughter, Malika, was home at the time, but thought the noise was thunder or related to nearby construction work, she said.

"It sounded like thunder," she said. "It shook the whole house."

Carpenters working next door notified her that a tree hit the house.

"I was thinking it was kind of a weird time of the year for thunder," said Aaron Crossley, one of the carpenters.

Malika Brunette contacted her father, who came home.

Wallace Tree Service in Juneau was called to remove the tree, Bruce Brunette said.

Brunette does not have an estimate on the damage. The rest of the house was not affected.

High winds are common this time of the year, Rahe said. Thursday's were caused by a strong low-pressure system to the west of Yakutat and high pressure flowing across eastern British Columbia, he said. A couple of days ago, wind speeds were reported at 50 mph at the top of the Mount Roberts Tramway.

Winds are expected to subside at 10 to 20 mph for today, but then pick up again to over 40 mph Saturday night into Sunday, he said.

• Tara Sidor can be reached at

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