Winds Whipping Up Dust, Gravel in the Mat-Su

Schools stayed open in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough on Friday, despite high winds raking the area late Thursday night and were expected to continue through Friday afternoon.

A low pressure center moving into the Northern Gulf of Alaska, in combination with a high pressure area over the Interior, caused the winds. Palmer, Wasilla, Chickaloon and Sutton were affected by the winds, which reached 60 mph with gusts of up to 80 mph.

Casey Cook, the Mat- Su Borough’s emergency services director, said the wind was blowing up gravel from the roadways, and was kicking up a lot of dust. Schools were open, but other facilities were not

Cook said intermittent power outages were caused by the wind damage and that there was at least one injury blamed on the wind event.

Matanuska Electric Association reported that about 3,500 people were affected by power outages Thursday night and Friday morning, according to company spokeswoman Julie Estey.

Crews worked between Willow and Talkeetna to take down lines that needed repair. Additional crews had been called to help restore power to 500 MEA customers still without electricity noon on Friday.

An air quality advisory was in effect throughout the Mat-Su Borough,  because of the dry air and the lack of snowfall in the area. The wind was kicking up dust and silt, and children, the elderly and persons with existing lung or heart disease were encouraged to stay indoors for the duration of the windy period.

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APTI Reporter-Producer Ellen Lockyer started her radio career in the late 1980s, after a stint at bush Alaska weekly newspapers, the Copper Valley Views and the Cordova Times. When the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, Valdez Public Radio station KCHU needed a reporter, and Ellen picked up the microphone. Since then, she has literally traveled the length of the state, from Attu to Eagle and from Barrow to Juneau, covering Alaska stories on the ground for the AK show, Alaska News Nightly, the Alaska Morning News and for Anchorage public radio station, KSKA elockyer (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8446 | About Ellen