I grew up on the Texas Gulf Coast. Hurricanes and tropical storms are just a part of summer. Many childhood summer memories revolve around tracking storms to see where they might hit. My godfather and his wife had a magnetic map with longitude/latitude lines where you placed red magnets along the path of the storm. Sounds very low tech doesn’t it? As a kid I thought it was pretty cool. Please remember this was the 1980s and before the internet, but I digress….Bringing lawn furniture into the garage, checking the batteries in your flashlights and lanterns, taping or boarding up your windows and making sure you had enough water and non-perishable food was part of the summer ritual.
I didn’t ever consider that those skills might come in handy up here in the Last Frontier. They did. Last Tuesday night and Wednesday morning we had an Alaskan windstorm. Overnight winds were tropical storm and hurricane strength. My understanding is these storms can be common in the fall here, but this storm came early in the season and was particularly bad. Downtown had winds in the 40 mph range, though looking at some of the pictures in the paper of storm damage I think it could have been higher. As you moved up what’s called the Hillside (closer to and up into the Chugach mountains) the winds were stronger. We live mid-Hillside and we had winds in the 60-70 mph range. Even higher up winds were over 100 mph. So in other words, we had a hurricane minus the flooding and storm surge.
I really didn’t sleep well that night; the wind was so loud and I was concerned with what I was going to find the next morning. We were lucky. We kept our power, though we did have many power surges. We had no major damage and only one small tree at the back of the property was down. Our neighbors weren’t so lucky. One of them had three large trees down. Others had at least one tree down. School was cancelled all over town on Wednesday due to power outages and trees down over the roads. Many homes didn’t get power back until this weekend.
Lessons learned: put away all lawn furniture, make sure you have enough water and non-perishable food, check the batteries in your lanterns and flashlights, consider purchasing a generator. I think some of my hurricane preparedness training will come in handy.