Kodiak and its surrounding maritime area are due to be battered by a severe windstorm Thursday evening. According to meteorologist Joe Wegman of the National Weather Service, this is not like other windstorms.
“This is a this is a pretty unique pattern for Kodiak. That isn’t to say that Kodiak doesn’t get windy and gusty other times from other storms. But because of how particularly strong all the features are– between the depths of the cold air and the upper level support, that’s what makes this one particularly unusual and has the potential to be more severe than most others,” Wegman said.
Wind speeds are forecast as high as 55mph sustained, with gusts at 65mph or more. Skies should be clear and no precipitation. But the forecast gets particularly harrowing out at sea. There are hurricane-force winds expected in the Shelikof Strait, paired with heavy freezing spray.
“Those areas will have the even stronger winds than even the 75 miles per hour gusts that we have expected for Kodiak. There’ll be more sustained there, along with slightly cooler sea surface temperatures and the air will be a bit colder in those areas as well. So those three factors combine to produce heavy freezing spray that will have extreme rates of accretion to the levels of up to two inches per hour,” Wegman said.
Wegman says that people living in the Kodiak Island Borough and mariners should take an abundance of caution going into this period of foul weather.
“Tie everything down, bring any loose objects inside. Be aware that this level of strong winds has the potential to produce power outages and so to have an emergency kit available in case it’s prolonged power outage would be good. And then of course, for mariners- best advice would just be to stay in port so that there’s no heavy freezing spray concerns for them,” Wegman said.
The Kodiak Electric Association just rolled out a new system for tracking outages, for those that want to stay in the know. The KEA webpage now features an “outage map” button on the homepage that will direct to a map of electric service outages, updated every five minutes. The KEA phone number has recently added a system to report outages, and you can set the SmartHub app for mobile use of your KEA account to text you updates on outages around Kodiak.