Strong winds affecting power, travel in Mat-Su

Trees lay across downed power lines in the Mat-Su.
Trees lay across downed power lines in the Mat-Su.(Photo courtesy Matanuska Electric Association)
Published: Jan. 2, 2022 at 11:07 AM AKST|Updated: Jan. 3, 2022 at 8:22 AM AKST
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MATANUSKA VALLEY, Alaska (KTUU) - High winds wreaked havoc with travel conditions and residents’ power Sunday across the Matnuska Valley.

Gusts of wind were measured at 82 mph Sunday in Palmer, and strong winds across the borough knocked out power to over 19,000 Matanuska Electric Association customers at one point on Sunday afternoon.

Whiteout conditions on Saturday had caused accidents and briefly closed a portion of the Glenn Highway. As many as 1,200 customers in the Mat-Su saw power outages Saturday afternoon before wind strength increased overnight. The National Weather Service issued a high wind warning that will be in effect until 6 p.m. Monday.

Matanuska Electric Association spokesperson Jennifer Castro said that four large feeder outages impacting over 1,000 members each are located in the Wasilla area.

“We have all of our available in-house linemen crews and some contract crews that are working on the many outages which are spread out throughout our service territory,” Castro wrote. “We will continue to work until we have everyone back on. We greatly appreciate the patience of our members as some outages are taking much longer to restore, depending on the storm related damage in their area. Our line crews are just incredible, for being able to go out in these types of conditions and safely get power back on for our members.”

Castro said that over 13,000 members were without power at 10 a.m. on Sunday. The Glenn Highway was reopened to both northbound and southbound traffic just after 6 p.m. Sunday night, but troopers still warn residents to travel cautiously.

“Please proceed with extreme caution and drive carefully,” troopers wrote. In Palmer, numerous aircraft tied down at the “Bud” Woods Palmer Municipal Airport flipped over due to the high winds.

The Mat-Su Borough School District announced that schools are closed on Jan. 3 due to the outages and poor road conditions caused by high winds.

MSBSD School Closure for Mon Jan 3rd. Due to the high winds, multiple power outages & poor road conditions, there will be NO SCHOOL tomorrow and will not be a remote learning day.

Posted by Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District on Sunday, January 2, 2022

Wasilla Mayor Glenda Ledford said that preparations were being made to use the Menard Center as a shelter if necessary. A semi truck flipped over near Mat-Su Regional Medical Center on the Parks Highway on Sunday as well.

“It’s not good it’s really not good for really anybody out here,” Palmer Manager John Moosey said.

A semi truck flipped near Mat-Su Regional Medical Center on the Parks Highway Sunday afternoon.
A semi truck flipped near Mat-Su Regional Medical Center on the Parks Highway Sunday afternoon.(Dave Leval)

A separate semi truck flipped over on the Glenn Highway near the interchange with the Parks Highway. Troopers reported that the lane of the flyover of the Glenn Highway is expected to remain closed until Monday morning.

A semi flipped on the Glenn Highway on Sunday.
A semi flipped on the Glenn Highway on Sunday.(Photo Courtesy Department of Transportation Highway Cam)

Sunday afternoon, over 800 Chugach Electric customers in Anchorage were briefly without power in the Taku/Campbell area. Additionally, over 1,200 Homer Electric Association customers remain without power as of Sunday evening at 6 p.m. Many smaller outages have occurred near Kenai and Soldotna, according to the Homer Electric Association outage map.

The Palmer Little League shed at Palmer Senior Field was blown onto Elmwood Avenue in Palmer.
The Palmer Little League shed at Palmer Senior Field was blown onto Elmwood Avenue in Palmer.(Dave Leval)

Early Sunday morning, an avalanche broke loose in Juneau, blocking Thane Road.

UPDATE Jan. 2, 9:15 pm. The Avalanche hazard remains high. Numerous natural avalanches were observed along Thane Road...

Posted by Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities on Sunday, January 2, 2022

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional information.

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