Matanuska-Susitna Borough

Ripping winds put Mat-Su on alert

PALMER Thurs. 1 p.m. | Patty Sullivan | Sunday, April 29, 2007

The number of emergency responders on duty will be stepped up today in response to the high winds cutting across the Matanuska and Susitna valleys.

The extra crews will be able to provide faster responses should we have a fire or other emergency during this high wind event, said MAT-SU Borough Manager John Duffy.

Just as a precaution, a short-staffed Emergency Operations Center will monitor the situation around the clock. The EOC will grow proportionate to the incident, said Emergency Services Director Dennis Brodigan.

Fierce winds in the MAT-SU are reminders of the March windstorms of 2003. Over nine days, heavy winds did more than $5 million in property damage. The 2003 MAT-SU windstorm was declared a federal disaster.

Present winds are less severe . For the Matanuska Valley, the National Weather Service has issued a high wind warning, now in effect until 9 pm on Friday. Wind gusts of 60 to 85 mph can be expected to continue into Friday evening. Wind gusts earlier today were clocked at 67 mph in Palmer, 45 mph at Settlers Bay, 36 mph in Wasilla.

In areas near Willow and Talkeetna a wind chill advisory remains in effect until Saturday at 9 am. The howling winds are expected to drop the wind chill to 30-45 below zero there tonight. Hypothermia is possible. People should stay indoors tonight.

The extended weather forecast calls for below normal temperatures through March 11 and strong winds through March 10.

For more information contact Patty Sullivan, Borough public affairs manager, at 355-0103.