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Gusts up to 50 miles per hour knock down trees, power lines

Wind whips up peninsula

Posted: Tuesday, November 14, 2006

 

  Dav Machado's plane was the victim of a blown-down tree in the Holt-Lamplight area Monday. "Oh well, back to the drawing board," he said. Photo courtesy of Dave Machado

Dav Machado's plane was the victim of a blown-down tree in the Holt-Lamplight area Monday. "Oh well, back to the drawing board," he said.

Photo courtesy of Dave Machado

Winds of nearly 50 miles per hour toppled trees over power lines in the Kenai area Monday, leaving half a dozen neighborhoods without power by early afternoon.

People who scavenged for candles and flashlights Monday might take some comfort in knowing that 50 mile per hour winds are an uncommon occurrence in Kenai.

“You’re talking maybe a couple times each winter that you’ll see this ... it’s quite unusual,” said Shaun Baines, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Anchorage. “That’s strong wind for you guys.”

Winds started picking up at about 10 a.m. with gusts of about 30 miles per hour. By 11 a.m. winds picked up to 40 miles per hour and by about 1:30 p.m. winds of nearly 50 miles per hour were measured.

In an interview early in the afternoon, Baines said forecasts predicted high winds would continue until about 6 or 7 p.m.

Homer Electric Association started receiving calls from people reporting power outages midmorning when winds began toppling trees in the Holt Lamplight area north of Kenai, said Joe Gallagher, spokesman for HEA.

As winds continued to build, HEA received calls reporting additional outages, including neighborhoods near Tinker Avenue, along Kalifornsky Beach Road and Even Lane, and in the West Poppy Lane area.

HEA also responded to problems with the power line that services the Swanson River oil and gas field. By about 4 p.m. HEA began to receive calls reporting outages in the Anchor Point area.

By about 2 p.m. HEA had received about 100 calls reporting outages.

“And I expect that we’ll be getting some more because of the way that the wind is blowing,” Gallagher said. “We’ve got pretty much all available crews working right now on these scattered outages. ... We’re working as hard as we can to get (power) back on as soon as possible for the folks that are without.”

As of about 3 p.m. two Kenai ERA flights had been delayed and one chartered flight canceled due to high winds.

Grant Aviation pilot Mike Campbell, who had just returned a plane from Anchorage at about 3 p.m., said the high winds had slowed flights headed to Anchorage from Kenai, but had not necessarily flights more turbulent.

But thanks to Monday’s winds Dave Machado won’t be piloting any smooth flights in the near future. Machado, who had his airplane parked beside his home in the Holt Lamplight neighborhood, said a spruce tree standing on his neighbor’s property fell over in the wind and crushed his airplane.

“I was gone about an hour and then bingo, when I pulled into the driveway I saw (the tree) laying on top of my airplane,” he said. “(And) another tree broke and landed on my shed. So we’re getting hammered out here.”

According to National Weather Service, winds of up to 35 miles per hour are expected to continue through Wednesday.

HEA has asked that anyone who sees a downed power line stay away from the line and report it to HEA at 1-888-8OUTAGE.

Patrice Kohl can be reached at patrice.kohl@peninsulaclarion.com.



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