High winds stall Tustemena; More gusts on horizon

Forecasts calling for continued high winds in Southcentral Alaska have forced cancellation of the state ferry Tustemena’s sailing between Homer and Kodiak.

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Jeremy Woodrow is a spokesman for the Department of Transportation.

“There are hurricane force winds forecast between Homer and Kodiak Island, therefore the Alaska Marine Highway system has opted to cancel those sailings on the MV Tustemena.”

The Tuesday and Wednesday sailings between the two cities are on hold for now. A persistent low pressure system is bringing the big winds to the Gulf of Alaska coastal areas.

“The forecast is calling for over 70-knot winds and seas upwards of 26 or 27 feet, and those are above the limits that we choose to sail the Tustemena, and that is for the safety of passengers and being able to secure cargo on the ship.”

The Tustemena is expected to sail to Kodiak on Thursday. The ferry will still sail as scheduled between Homer and Seldovia.

Woodrow says Southeast ferries are sailing as scheduled.

High wind warnings go into effect Tuesday for Kenai Peninsula cities, Kachemak Bay, Bristol Bay and Anchorage and Eklutna.

The National Weather Service predicts winds up to 60 mph and gusts to 75 mph starting around midnight in Kachemak Bay. The winds are expected to dissipate Wednesday afternoon.

Anchorage’s lower Hillside area, East Anchorage, Turnagain Arm and higher elevations around the city are under a high wind warning starting at 9 this evening. Southeast winds up to 90 mph and gusts of 100 mph are expected to rock Turnagain Arm and higher elevations. East Anchorage winds are expected to reach 50 – 70 mph. The high winds are expected to decrease Wednesday afternoon.

The Western Prince William Sound communities of Seward, Portage, Whittier and Girdwood are under a high wind warning between 1 am and 11 am Wednesday. Winds of 60 to 80 mph are expected.

Bristol Bay communities of Naknek, King Salmon and Dillingham are under a high wind warning starting 9 p.m. Tuesday through Wednesday with gusts potentially reaching 100 mph. Strongest winds are predicted for the western capes and north Bristol Bay coast.