The New Year is coming in like a lion. Hurricane-force wind howling through the Mat-Su Valley has flipped planes at the Palmer Municipal Airport, toppled trees, and taken the roofs off of buildings as the new year begins. Schools are closed in the Mat-Su Valley due to the wind and damage. City of Wasilla offices are closed, including the Wasilla Police Department’s administrative office.
Winds at the Palmer Airport clocked 81 mph at one point, with blowing snow and debris.
Wasilla Police have asked people to shelter in place. On Facebook, the department pleaded for help from the public to stay off roads and stay home “unless absolutely necessary.” Heavy winds are expected to last until Monday evening.
The KFC-A&W building on the Palmer-Wasilla Highway was heavily damaged by wind starting at about 7 pm Sunday, and debris is blowing throughout the valley, hitting and damaging vehicles and buildings. Many homes and businesses are without power, as the temperature is in the single digits. On Facebook, Wasilla Police warned:
“AVOID THE AREA OF KFC MEANS AVOID THE AREA.”
“Stop trying to get close to take pictures. Our officers vehicles are being hit with debris trying to keep people out of the way. Seriously. GO home and stay there. AVOID KFC AND FRED MEYER KFC/A&W has suffered a catastrophic collapse. Please avoid the area due to flying debris and emergency vehicles. There have been multiple reports of debris (not just from KFC) hitting and damaging vehicles. STAY HOME. The borough has advised a shelter in place. The NWS has extended the wind warning to 6pm tomorrow. All City of Wasilla administrative offices are closed tomorrow (including the WPD admin office). Seriously folks, stay home unless absolutely necessary.”
The power is out for thousands who are staying home. In Wasilla, 44 percent of the city is out of power, and in Palmer proper, 52 percent lack power. Palmer Fishhook and Sutton homes are about 99.5 percent out of power. The MEA power outage map is here.
Meanwhile, in Juneau, Thane Road is closed due to a major avalanche after an epic snowstorm brought as much as 16 inches of snow at sea level over the weekend, combined with “Taku winds” of 35 to 45 mph with gusts up to 70 mph. Power is out in Thane, a neighborhood south of the town center. AEL&P said that line workers can’t access the lines by road, due to the avalanche that went all the way into Gastineau Channel and will attempt to fly in a crew in the morning on Monday, but advised that “Customers affected should be prepared for an extended outage.”
Sugar Fegley posted a photo on Facebook of the avalanche covering the road on Sunday.