Wind knocks out power, cancels flights

Posted: Thursday, January 08, 2004

High winds that whipped across the central Kenai Peninsula this week caused roughly 3,200 Homer Electric Association members to lose power for about two hours Tuesday evening, as well as the cancellation of two Era Aviation flights Tuesday and Wednesday.

However, wind gusts expected to reach 70 mph never materialized, and the storm appears to have done little damage across the peninsula.

The National Weather Service lifted its wind advisory for the peninsula at 12:01 a.m. this morning, with the strong northeast wind expected to drop down to the 10- to 20-mph range today.

According to HEA spokesperson Joe Gallagher, the power outage was caused when the winds damaged a glass insulator on a power pole in Sterling. It affected users from HEA's substation on Boundary Avenue on the outskirts of Soldotna to the Sterling-Funny River area.

"The wind will stress those things," Gallagher said of the damaged insulator.

The outage occurred at around 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, and power was restored at approximately 7 p.m.

Other than that one outage, Gallagher said the recent winds have largely spared HEA customers. HEA issued an advisory early this week to its customers, warning of the potential for outages from winds that were predicted to reach 70 mph. As of Wednesday afternoon, Gallagher said the winds hadn't caused any other interruptions in service.

"It turned out the winds weren't quite as strong as expected," he said.

Era Kenai Station Manager Judy Erikson said the winds caused Era to cancel one flight Tuesday and another early Wednesday morning. However, as of Wednesday afternoon, Era's flight schedule was running on time. Erikson said she, too, believed the wind storm didn't pack the kind of punch that was initially feared.

"I don't think (the winds) were as bad as they could have been," she said.

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