The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

 
 

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Weekend winds caused scattered damage throughout Valdez

Town is famous for snow but high winds are common year-round

 

Steve Revis photo

A crew on Monday moved the giant salmon from the front of the old Three Bears building after it was toppled by wind during last week's storm.

Valdez is famous for its snow, but high winds are also a common weather problem year round - and last week saw plenty of it.

The town had warning of the coming weather.

The city's public information office issued a public service announcement through the Nixel communication system Thursday, stating that the National Weather Service had issued a high wind warning for Friday and Saturday.

"Due to the potential for dangerous flying debris throughout the community, residents are urged to secure loose objects that could be blown around or damaged by the wind," the city said. "During a high wind event, residents are advised to limit driving to only that necessary and refrain from walking on all city streets until wind speeds diminish. Please keep children and pets indoors."

Sustained gusts of up to 97 miles per hour were clocked at the airport Friday as the winds ripped through town. Pieces of roofing occasionally blew through the city's streets, while a few more high-profile damages occurred.

The giant fiberglass salmon that has graced Egan Dr in front of the old Three Bears building site toppled to the ground - and lost its tail, while a sailboat dry-docked at the Small Boat Harbor was turned on its side.

One of the two totem poles posted in front to the Valdez Visitors Center was toppled during the windstorm.

Steve Revis photo

This sailboat could not stand up to the strong winds.

Other less-conspicuous damages occurred throughout Valdez, including downed and damaged trees, plenty of missing road signs and siding and roofing damages to homes and commercial buildings.

Vast snowdrifts also threatened motorist on streets and the highway, while homes and businesses often experienced large snowdrifts, that sometimes blocked doorways and driveways.

While Valdez struggled with wind, friends and family in the Lower 48 struggled with low temperatures and some areas not accustomed to snow received sprinklings or in some cases, several inches of snow.

While many in Alaska - especially in Valdez - scoff at weather-related standstills outside, snow can be a devastating to areas with municipal infrastructure that is not equipped for such weather.

 

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