Windstorm rips through Chugiak-Eagle River

More than 16,000 MEA customers lost power


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An uprooted tree sits in front of Manuel Belmudes' home on South Birchwood Loop Road on Thursday, Sept. 6. Belmudes said the windstorm that blew through Chugiak-Eagle River on Tuesday was the worst he's seen in his 40 years living in Chugiak.

Star photo by Mike Nesper

More than 16,000 Matanuska Electric Association members were without power after a windstorm ripped through Southcentral Alaska on Tuesday night.

“The bulk of them are in Eagle River, and that includes Chugiak and Peters Creek,” MEA spokesman Kevin Brown said.

MEA said 16,450 customers lost power at the height of the outage. Five substations went down and 23 feeder lines were damaged, the utility said. 

By Saturday, MEA said it had restored power to nearly all of its customers. MEA said it had crews working 24 hours a day to clear thousands of trees and restore power. 

MEA is asking any member still without power in the Chugiak-Eagle River area to call its outage line at 696-7697. 

Once power is restored to everyone, MEA said crews will come back through neighborhoods to remove additional trees that might pose a threat to power lines and equipment. 

Eagle River, Chugiak, Birchwood and Peters Creek were the hardest hit areas and had the most outages in MEA's service area, the utility said. 

Wind gusts between 30 and 40 mph swept across Chugiak-Eagle River, said Andy Dixon, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Anchorage. Dixon said the strongest gusts were recorded at the Eagle River Nature Center (43 mph) and on Hiland Road (50 mph).

That’s nothing compared to Anchorage.

On the Hillside, winds surpassed 100 mph, Dixon said. There was even an unconfirmed report of winds reaching 131 mph from a homeowner who lives near the Glen Alps parking lot, he said.

“It was a pretty significant event,” Dixon said.

The Anchorage School District canceled classes Wednesday, but the Mat-Su Valley School District did not.  

Most windstorms last about an hour, Dixon said, but the four-to-six-hour storm Tuesday was unusual.

“It was a long event, too,” he said.

The timing of the storm was also uncommon, Dixon said.

“A storm this strong usually doesn’t occur this early in the year,” he said.

With unfrozen ground and the amount of rain in recent weeks, the storm uprooted a large number of trees, Dixon said.

Check www.alaskastar.com for updates.

 

Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or mike.nesper@alaskastar.com

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