High winds, heavy rains expected midweek as strong low pressure system impacts Southeast Alaska

A satellite view of the North Pacific on Monday. (Image courtesy of CIRA/NOAA)

Southeast Alaska’s first big fall storm is forecast to wash ashore this week. Kimberly Vaughan with the National Weather Service in Juneau says it’ll bring strong winds and heavy rains to the panhandle.

“There’s a hurricane force low that’s tracking across the Gulf,” she said in an on-air interview on KRBD Monday morning. “It’s going to make landfall between the Yakutat and Cordova area.”

The low pressure system is expected to weaken slightly as it comes closer to land on Tuesday.

The northern panhandle is in for the strongest winds and heaviest rains: meteorologists are predicting winds of 40 to 55 miles per hour Tuesday night with some areas reaching 60 miles per hour. Three to four inches of rain are forecast through Thursday.

In southern panhandle communities like Ketchikan, Wrangell and Petersburg, meteorologists are expecting peak winds of up to 40 miles per hour Tuesday night with some stronger winds possible. There’s one to two inches of rain in the forecast through Thursday for that area.

High winds and driving rain are not unusual for this time of year in Southeast. But with the first big fall storm on its way, Vaughan says it’s time to get prepared.

“This is a great time to just make sure you’ve picked up everything as far as anything that might blow around that you don’t want to lose,” Vaughan said. “Make sure you know where your rubber boots and raincoats are.”

The stormy week ahead follows a couple of unseasonably sunny and mild days this past weekend.

Stations across Southeast, including in Ketchikan, Sitka, Petersburg, Haines and Juneau broke records with highs in the upper 50s and low 60s.

On Saturday, In Haines, the high of 57 broke an 87-year-old daily record. Temperatures at Ketchikan’s airport matched a nearly 60-year-old record high of 66 degrees. Sitka’s 63-degree high broke a 53-year-old record. And in Juneau, a high of 56 degrees broke a record that had stood since 1981. Petersburg’s high of 64 surpassed a record set in 2018.

Sunday also brought record high temperatures — Ketchikan and Juneau’s airport weather stations broke records set in 2015.

Highs for this time of year are typically in the 40s and 50s, 10 to 15 degrees lower than they were this weekend.

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