In Alaska, freezing winds deprive thousands of inhabitants of electricity

6,300 homes were still without power in central Alaska on Tuesday night after a weekend windstorm in which gusts of up to 145 km/h carried freezing cold. In the borough of Matanuska Susitna, about sixty kilometers from the capital Anchorage, school was canceled for the third consecutive day on Wednesday.

The valley experienced 48 hours of sustained wind, nearly equaling the record set in February 1979, when strong winds blew for 51 straight hours.

At 12:30 p.m. French time this Wednesday, 2:30 a.m. Alaska time, it was -21° in Anchorage. Tuesday morning, a temperature varying from 0 to 5° was recorded, but rose to -15° in felt temperature. At a news conference on Monday, the National Weather Service in Anchorage warned of the conditions which can be “life threatening for those without power, as frostbite can develop in barely 15 minutes”.

“We are not able to give an estimate of the delays”

A severe wind warning is still in effect through Wednesday evening, with gusts expected between 80 and 105 km/h, according to the National Weather Service.

This situation complicates the work of restoring the lines by the electricity company. Support crews have flown in from Anchorage and Fairbanks to help with recovery efforts in the Matanuska Susitna Valley, according to the Matanuska Electric Association. “We are unable to provide an estimate of time to restore power as the variables keep changing,” the company said.

Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy on Monday initiated an emergency procedure to help families who need help with expenses related to the disaster.

For the moment, the emergency services have not recorded any deaths due to the extreme situation.

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