Fierce winds shatter windows at Douglas Cafe, in parked vehicle

Gusts reach 40 mph at Mount Roberts tram

Posted: Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Strong winds whipped down Gastineau Channel Monday in a preview of one of the season's hallmarks, damaging some businesses in Douglas.

"It's pretty crazy," said Sam Burrous at the Douglas Depot.

Most of what blew away from the gas station and convenience store at Third and D streets was retrieved, but a handwritten sign stuck inside the front door directed customers to the side - where the door wouldn't be caught by the wind, Burrous said.

At the opposite corner, a new door was being hung at the Douglas Cafe after the wind apparently blew out the glass in the old one.

"Douglas gets some good wind," said Robyn Ramos, who owns the cafe with her husband, Cisco Ramos.

Kerry Hanko, a meteorologist intern for the National Weather Service in Juneau, described the breeze that was kicking up white caps on Gastineau Channel as "a mild version" of Juneau fall winds. "Events like this are pretty common, especially in the late fall."

The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory for the area, effective through Monday evening. In the afternoon, it was projecting winds at 20 to 30 mph, with gusts up to 45 mph.

Cool temperatures may have added to the wind's bite. They didn't get out of the 30s, Hanko said.

At higher elevations, wind was gusting to 40 mph at the tram terminal on Mount Roberts and 38 mph at the top of the Federal Building.

Gusts coming down Third Street in Douglas caught people's attention, too.

Sherill Baxter said she was cleaning at P.P.'s Douglas Inn at around 9:30 a.m. Monday when she heard the wind break things outside. "It was a pretty good gust."

She said that in addition to the door at the cafe breaking, it looked like the wind broke the back window of a vehicle parked on the street. She also noticed the gas station losing a garbage can that had been tied down.

Burrous said the can had been secured to the property with a bungee cord. The can was found about two blocks away, under a parked vehicle, before it was returned to the store and put inside. What is left of the cord was inside the can, he added.

The plastic container that held the windshield squeegee at the gas pumps blew away, too, he said. The container was retrieved. "The squeegee is still lost."

Ramos said she and her husband have had the cafe for nine years, and the door had always been able to take the wind. She found it was cheaper and quicker to replace the entire door, rather than repairing the glass.

"Usually (the wind) comes over the mountains," Baxter said. "This one came down the street."

Wind was measured at only 10 mph at the National Weather Service office, on Mendenhall Loop Road, in the forest near the Mendenhall Glacier, Hanko said. "We're a little more sheltered."

But out in the open, the conditions are ripe for strong winds with Juneau lying between high pressure to the north and low pressure to the south.

It happens as the days shorten and there is less daytime warming, Hanko explained. There will be windier days before the season is through, she added.

• Tony Carroll can be reached at

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