Mother Nature to populated Alaska: "Had enough yet, suckers?''
Yes, folks, another North Pacific storm is on the way. This one is expected to spare Anchorage the hurricane-force winds and torrential rains that previous rounds have delivered. But a sizable part of the Southcentral region could get drenched again.
Rain, sometimes heavy, is forecast for Seward, Valdez and Cordova, with winds accelerating through mountain passes. Flood warnings have been posted for the eastern Kenai Peninsula and the Copper River basin.
"A powerful storm force front will move north through the Gulf (of Alaska) today and reach the Gulf coast this evening, then flush inland tonight,'' the National Weather Service predicts. "Besides the widespread storm-force winds with this storm, heavy rainfall along Prince William Sound will be another threat.''
The Kenai River system, which drains the slope of the Kenai Peninsula from near Seward west to Cook Inlet, is already above flood stage. It peaked at 16 feet on Monday morning near Cooper Landing and was expected to remain at minor flood stage for the rest of the week. By 11 a.m. Wednesday, the river was:
• Cresting at 15.5 feet below Skilak Lake, some 1.3 feet above flood stage.
• Hitting 13.2 feet at Kenai Keys, with an expected crest of 13.4 feet later in the day. Flood stage in that part of the river is 11.5 feet.
• Registering 12.3 feet in Soldotna, with a peak of 12.5 feet expected Wednesday night. Food stage there is 12.0 feet.
More rain is expected Wednesday night and Thursday at the headwataers of the Kenai River, which could deliver further problems all the way downstream to the city of Kenai. "There could be further flood problems,'' the forecast warned. But the good news was that the water level in Kenai Lake had dropped nearly a foot since cresting Monday.
At midday Wednesday, the Weather Service extended its flood warning from Kenai Lake to the mouth of the river until 4 p.m. Sunday as forecasters worked to track the new storm.
"Today's forecasts keep the storm hovering near Kodiak Island,'' the Weather Service's Facebook page added on Wednesday. What exactly tomorrow's forecast will bring remains a little iffy. These systems tend to change rapidly and don't always make landfall exactly as forecast.
But as the Weather Service noted, one thing is for sure: "Storm season is alive and well in the Gulf of Alaska today."
Contact Craig Medred at craig(at)alaskadispatch.com