Winter storm whips through local area

Saturday, December 10, 2011 - 15:48
Some go without power while others end up in the ditch

A “Pineapple Express” weather system that pushed warm, windy conditions into the Anchorage area last week played havoc on local roads, electrical grids and school activities.

Temperatures well above freezing and rain made streets across the area slick and hazardous, leading to more than 120 motor vehicle accidents over the weekend, according to Anchorage Police spokesman Lt. Dave Parker.

Parker said 22 accidents involved injuries, though none were life-threatening.

“It was mainly just bumps and bruises,” Parker said.

On Friday, Dec. 2, APD received 75 calls for vehicles in distress and 47 accidents, including 10 with injuries. On Saturday, Parker said there were 73 vehicles in distress, 59 accidents (10 with injuries). By Sunday, things had finally settled down, with 29 vehicles in distress, 18 accidents — two of those with injuries.

“A lot of people basically just stayed home,” Parker said.

The high winds associated left hundreds in the area without power, said Matanuska Electric Association spokesman Wes Lindsey. Between Eagle River and Willow, Lindsey said about 500 homes were without power for parts of Saturday night and into Sunday afternoon. Of those, Lindsey said about 300 homes were located in the Chugiak-Eagle River area.

“It started Saturday night, Sunday morning and went through [Sunday] evening,” Lindsey said.

He said trees falling into power lines caused the majority of the outages.

According to the National Weather Service, the storm brought extremely high temperatures and winds to Anchorage and surrounding areas. The service said it clocked a wind gust of 118 miles per hour at Glen Alps early Sunday morning. At that time, temperatures at the Birchwood airport reached a balmy 54 degrees.

The storm, which began Friday, also caused after-school activities in the area to grind to a halt. On Friday, four hockey games were canceled, as was the Cook Inlet Conference riflery competition for “B” and “C” teams. That competition was rescheduled and held on Saturday.

On Saturday, wrestling teams missed out on the annual North-South tournament at Wasilla High because school buses were not permitted to run in the morning. Also that day, the season-opening Service Snowball Nordic ski races were canceled because of poor weather.

By Saturday evening, most events were back on schedule.


Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or [email protected]

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