UPDATE: At the time this story was posted, winds were expected to diminish by 7 pm this evening. Winds of 20 to 30 mph with gusts to 50 mph are now in the forecast.
The storm predicted to bring heavy rains and strong winds to the Ketchikan area, with gusts up to 80 miles per hour, did produce record rainfall, but didn’t quite pack the punch that was expected Friday morning. Andy Donato, Electric Division Manager of Ketchikan Public Utilities, says his staff was prepared for the worst.
“We met early yesterday morning and tried to organize. We made sure we had all the trucks properly stocked. We were ready for something much larger. We had plans of staggering our linemen and support people, and staggering mechanics for running diesels. It looks like none of that was necessary. I hope. I hope this thing is over.”
The remnants of Hurricane Oho did produce some minor damage. Donato says KPU received a few reports of isolated outages and incidents Friday morning. He says the first call came in at 7:30.
“That was a tree in the line about 8.3 miles north near where the U-Haul building is on Tongass. That was a tree in a residential service so we took care of that. (We received) another small call of some branches on Madison (Avenue), and then a light on Married Man’s Trails tipped and so we straightened that out. Those are the only calls, so really uneventful.”
David Levin, a meteorologist intern with the National Weather Service in Juneau, says gusts at Ketchikan International Airport reached up to 43 miles per hour Friday morning. He says Metlakatla experienced stronger winds and gusts, and Hydaburg recorded gusts up to 76 miles per hour. He says Craig and Klawock also saw strong winds and gusts.
The Inter-island Ferry Authority that provides service between Ketchikan and Hollis cancelled its sailings Friday. It will resume regular service on Saturday.
While the winds weren’t as strong as expected, the storm did bring record rainfall. Ketchikan International Airport recorded 7.2 inches on Thursday, breaking the previous one-day record for October 8th.
As a result of the heavy rains, a rockslide occurred late Thursday afternoon at about mile 4.5 South Tongass Highway, blocking the northbound lane. The debris was cleared and traffic resumed.
Though no additional damage was reported by story deadline, winds are picking up and are expected to remain strong with gusts up to 50 mph through Friday night.