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2012 September Monthly Report


Highlights

September's main weather events were the four storms to hit the Southcentral area. Starting on the 4th, high winds up to hurricane strength struck the region. The highest measured was 88 mph at McHugh Creek. However that station stopped reporting during the storm, and there were likely peak winds stronger that went unreported. See the table below for the recorded max wind speeds. High winds closed the Anchorage airport, and seven flights were diverted to Fairbanks. Schools and state offices were closed due to power outages and difficulty getting around because of all the trees downed. Power was out for parts of the city up to five days. The high winds pushed into the Interior and warnings were put out for the eastern Interior on the 5th.

The second storm hit on the 15th, and while it lacked the extreme high winds of the first storm, heavy rain was experienced across the Southcentral region. Flood watches were issued. High winds did make it into the Interior, and wind damage was reported from Healy to Tok, with the community of Tanacross reporting the worst damage with unofficial speeds of up to 114 mph recorded. One unexpected effect of the high winds was the revival of the Dry Creek fire, and the resulting smoke was pushed into the Fairbanks area on the 16th. This is very late in the fire season to have heavy smoke in the Fairbanks area.

The third storm came ashore on the 19th, with somewhat lighter winds and more rain. The heavy rain resulted in flooding from Talkeetna to Seward to Anchor Point. All residents of Talkeetna were urged to evacuate on the 21st, and the levee was breached. Other areas had evacuations as needed. The airport in Seward was closed with water on the runway. Both the Richardson and Denali highways had to be closed at times, as well as many local roads in affected areas as well. Damage to the Parks highway by the Nenana River reduced it to one lane in the canyon. The Nenana River hit a record of 14.9 feet, topping the old record of 14.1 feet from 1990. The main line of the Alaska Railroad was washed out near Gold Creek and nearby bridge damage, halting train traffic through that area until the 25th. The Kenai River was closed to all boat traffic for most of its length, and flood warnings were issued for many areas along the river. The Kalifornsky Beach road was washed out on the 20th, and not reopened until the end of the month. The fourth storm hit on the 26th and thankfully lacked the punch of the earlier storms, but did manage to keep streams and river high with more precipitation. The tables below are for the storm of the 19th.

The Denali Park Road was closed two days due to snow, once on the 6th and again on the 9th, even though the park was still open to tourists. Rare, late September thunder and lighting were reported in the Interior on the 24th and then was followed by snowflakes the next morning at the University's West Ridge.