Spring storm throws northern Alaska back into winter

Posted: Friday, April 26, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A spring storm with an identity disorder threw a large part of Alaska back into winter Friday with snow and strong winds buffeting much of northern Alaska.

The National Weather Service on Thursday and Friday issued warnings and advisories about the winter-like weather for a wide swath of Alaska.

The stormy weather was caused by a tightly-wrapped system over northeast Russia that was expected to peak near Barrow at 4 a.m. Saturday, before moving east toward northwest Canada, said Lynn Chrystal with the weather service in Valdez.

The stormy weather brought strong winds and snow to the North Slope, and rain and snow to much of the Interior.

''I guess this is going to be a late spring,'' Chrystal said.

The Interior was buffeted by blizzards with winter storm warnings issued from Barrow to as far south as the Alaska Range.

Some areas received heavy snow, particularly those at higher elevations.

Savoonga on St. Lawrence Island reported wind gusts of up to 75 mph. Strong winds also were reported in Bethel, Gambell, Shishmaref and Yukon and Kuskokwim Delta.

Winds were strong enough in Savoonga Thursday night to tear roofing materials and satellite dishes from roofs, said Francis Waghiyi, assistant manager of the Savoonga Native Store.

''It was pretty windy, but no snow, no blizzard,'' Waghiyi said.

Ben Iknokinok, a health aide in Gambell, said even though the winds were strong enough to shut down the village airport, he wasn't impressed.

''It wasn't even a big blow. It was like a little breeze.''

Gambell recorded a 52 mph wind gust.

Trash can lids and branches littered Nome's streets Friday morning, said Candace Weidler, financial administrator for the community center. The wind was blowing hard enough that she put her dogs inside and pulled garbage cans snug against the side of the house.

''It's a soup here with snow and rain,'' she said. ''I'm going to stay inside this weekend.''

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