Stormy conditions subside

Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2002

Peninsula residents can expect the weather to improve slightly today after the strong wind and heavy snows of Tuesday and Wednesday.

The National Weather Service expects snow showers to continue on the peninsula through the end of the week with winds tapering to 10 to 15 mph.

The lighter snow and wind should come as a relief after the weather service issued winter storm warnings for the area Wednesday.

The warnings, issued Wednesday at 5 a.m., predicted 1 to 2 feet of snow in higher elevations in the Kenai Mountains and up to 1 foot elsewhere. It also warned of 40 to 70 mph winds in Portage Valley and through Turnagain Arm.

Dave Vonderheide, with the weather service, said Spencer Glacier, along the railroad south of Portage, had reported 1 to 1.5 feet of snow by 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. Portage had received heavy snow and wind gusts up to 68 mph by 2 p.m., and Alyeska ski resort saw a peak gust of 75 mph.

Homer saw unusually high winds, peaking at 35 mph, and snow turned to a mixture of rain and snow around midday making roads slippery, Vonderheide said. A heavy snow warning was issued for the Homer bluff for Wednesday night.

Closer to home, the weather was a bit calmer. Strong winds continued to blow snow onto roads throughout the peninsula, with Kenai Municipal Airport reporting wind gusts at 39 mph, down slightly from Tuesday's 44 mph winds. Kenai also received about 2 inches of snow, though blowing powder on the ground made measurement difficult, Vonderheide said.

The state Department of Transportation Highway Division reported drifting snow on roads throughout the peninsula, and the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management personnel advised residents to avoid driving to Anchorage until the weather clears.

Otherwise, the storm caused few problems in the area. Homer Electric Association spokesperson Joe Gallagher said electricity remained on throughout Wednesday and the Alaska State Troopers reported no significant weather-related accidents.

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