Mudslide, wind cause multiple power outages

Posted: Sunday, November 15, 2009

Power outages throughout the borough Saturday morning were partially caused by a mudslide downtown.

Wind caused additional outages.

Power in the downtown area was shut off Saturday at the request of police after a mudslide damaged an apartment complex and several vehicles on Gastineau Avenue at about 7 a.m.

It's standard procedure to shut off power when requested during an emergency so that personnel can safely assess damage, said Scott Willis, vice president for Alaska Electric Light & Power Co.

The company restored one of two lines to downtown customers at about 8:30 a.m., but wind caused a tree to fall on a power pole on Basin Road, snapping the pole in half.

That delayed power restoration for some downtown customers until about 9 a.m., Willis said. Crews are scheduled to fix the pole next week.

Fallen trees in Lemon Creek caused a power outage for customers in the area and north of that neighborhood at about 6:30 a.m. Saturday.

Lemon Creek, Mendenhall Valley and residents out the road were switched to backup diesel generators for a few hours while crews worked on the lines.

Power to all customers was restored to the Snettisham hydroelectric project by about 10:30 a.m., Willis said.

A fallen tree in the airport area caused a third power outage at about 11 a.m. Saturday. It was fixed and power restored in about a half-hour, Willis said.

A strong weather system caused heavy rain and high winds Friday night and Saturday morning, said weather forecaster Bob Tschantz with the National Weather Service.

During a six-hour period Saturday starting at 3 a.m., a half-inch of rain fell at the airport. Precipitation measurements were not available for the downtown area, where the mudslide occurred.

"Typically it does rain harder downtown," Tschantz said.

Wind peaked at 62 mph at 4:46 a.m. Saturday at the airport, and at 63 mph at 8:17 a.m. at the Federal Building downtown.

The storm moved off Saturday night to leave wintry weather behind.

Tschantz forecasted snow today, and more snow mixed with rain through Monday.

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