About 500 homes in the Delta Junction area were still without power this afternoon, more than 18 hours after high winds gusting to 76 miles per hour pounded the area Tuesday night.
Linemen have been working since late last night throughout the Delta area to repair power lines pulled down by trees knocked over by the windstorm that started as a breeze from the south around noon Tuesday on an otherwise sunny autumn day.
By mid-afternoon, gusts were exceeding 60 miles per hour, kicking up towering clouds of dust off the silty banks of Delta River, peeling roofing from buildings, hurling plywood and plastic sheeting and generally wreaking havoc.
Golden Valley Electric Association crews restored power to most of Delta a little after 2 this morning. GVEA spokeswoman Cassandra Cerny says they were still at work this afternoon at a couple dozen trouble spots around the area.
“We have three crews working in the Delta area and we’re guessing that there are 25 to 30 locations that they’re working at,” she said.
Cerny says GVEA officials hope to restore power to all area customers by midnight.
Fort Greely fired up its backup generator when the power first went out at about 8 p.m. Tuesday. A spokeswoman for the Army post next door to Delta says no significant damage was reported.
The state Division of Forestry says two new fires were reported around Delta Tuesday, one in a residential area sparked by a downed power line, another smoldering near Tenderfoot Hill, about 30 miles north of town. Both were extinguished.
National Weather Service meteorologist John Lingaas says winds picked up later Tuesday afternoon, gusting to 70 miles per hour. He says the biggest blasts hit later in the evening.
“That 76 mph (gusting) occurred for a very short period of time between 8:30 and 9 p.m.,” Lingaas said.
The winds died down a bit overnight, then kicked up again this morning, prompting the weather service to extend its high-wind advisory to 4 this afternoon.
Lingaas says motorists making their way south on the Richardson Highway should still expect to run into heavy winds, especially north of Isabel Pass.
“Winds are going to continue to be blustery on the Richardson Highway, from Donnelly Dome down through Black Rapids Wednesday night and they should diminish early Thursday morning,” he said.