Weekend storm brings wind, rain and even lightning to Southeast Alaska

A blue, green and yellow blop on the cartographic map of Southeast Alaska
Radar image of a warm front moving into Southeast Alaska the afternoon of Sep. 29, 2020 (Courtesy of National Weather Service Juneau office)

Southeast Alaska just had its first big fall storm of the year.

“This is more normal than what last year was,” said Kimberly Vaughan with the National Weather Service in Juneau. “Last year definitely had more of a lamb-type fall and where this one is coming in with a lion.”

Vaughan says windy conditions were recorded all around Southeast Alaska over the weekend.

Wind gusts topped 68 miles per hour in Sitka and 62 in Hydaburg. In Craig, the wind blew over a shed.

Winds only gusted to 34 miles per hour at the largely sheltered downtown Juneau harbors Sunday afternoon. But they topped out at 57 mph at nearby Scull Island, 37 at Portland Island and 48 at Little Island.

Rainfall was significant but not unusual. Only 2.08 inches were recorded falling Saturday and Sunday at the Juneau airport.

And there was a light show to go along with the rain Monday morning.

“One of the residual things, though, that is happening as the storm is exiting the area is some lightning activity again (Monday) morning,” Vaughan said. “So we’ve had actually indications of a lightning strike down near Taku Inlet and also a big cluster up by just north of Berners Bay.”

Lightning was also reported along the outer coast of Southeast Alaska and up near Yakutat.

Vaughan says the high winds, rainfall and lightning occurred as a low-pressure system moved through the area. That happened as cold air from Russia and the Bering Strait pressed down on warmer air rising from Gulf of Alaska waters.