Floods close bridge, but no injuries reported

Heavy rain Thursday and Friday caused minor mudslides and triggered flood warnings across Juneau, but as soggy conditions gave way to sunshine, no major damage was reported and no injuries were reported.

According to the National Weather Service, 3.56 inches of rain fell at Juneau International Airport between midnight Thursday morning and 4 p.m. Friday.

In downtown Juneau, 3.35 inches of rain was recorded between 8 a.m. Thursday and 8 a.m. Friday.

Higher amounts were found at higher elevations: At Eaglecrest’s Powder Patch measuring station, 6.68 inches of rain was recorded between midnight Friday morning and 4 p.m. Friday. At the top of the Mount Roberts Tramway, 4.79 inches of rain was recorded in the same period.

The surge of rainfall swelled rivers above their banks and into flood stage. Jordan Creek crested just shy of 11 feet about 3 p.m. according to the river gauge. That was high enough to send several inches of water over Glacier Highway near Nugget Mall, though traffic was unaffected. Flood stage for the creek is 9.7 feet.

When Jordan Creek tops 10.5 feet, it’s high enough to push water into homes and businesses along its banks.

One of those businesses was Valley Chiropractic Clinic, located in the Jordan Creek Condominiums near McDonald’s. The parking lot of the condominium complex — which includes mostly medical practices — was flooded, forcing patients to wade through foot-deep water in some places to get to their appointments.

Dr. Tom Gundelfinger has seen floods like this before and spoke calmly as the rain continued to fall outside. There was a much worse flood in 1983, he recalled, when his young daughter watched with delight as salmon swam by the office’s stoop. As of noon Friday, nobody at Valley Chiropractic had spotted any fish swimming by.

Property Manager Tracey Ricker said that this is the worst flooding that she’s seen in this location. The buildings weren’t flooding yet Friday morning, she said, but some of the crawl spaces were starting to flood.

“We’re just telling everybody that this is gonna be here for a while,” Ricker said.

A woman named Rose, from Nizich Family Dental, said she expects the buildings to flood at some point. She appreciated the warning NWS issued Friday morning, but admitted that she didn’t think it would be quite as bad as it was.

Around lunchtime, Rose splashed her way out of her office and headed for her car, where the water was covering half of her tires.

“I guess I should move my car out of the river,” she joked.

Montana Creek reached 15.91 feet at Mendenhall Loop Bridge, slightly above the flood stage of 15.5 feet but well below the record 17.36 feet recorded in October 1998.

The fast-rising water caused the NWS to issue a flood warning and stream advisory Friday.

The most significant damage from the heavy rain came in downtown Juneau, where runoff from Mount Juneau eroded the banks of Gold Creek near the Calhoun Avenue bridge at the entrance to Cope Park.

The City and Borough of Juneau closed the bridge until engineers could determine whether the bridge’s footings had been affected.

Runoff from Mount Roberts filled the parking lot in front of the visitor information center with several inches of brown, murky water.

Aurah Landau, a spokeswoman for the Alaska Department of Transportation, said by email that a small mudslide blocked Thane Road about 6 a.m. Friday, but it was quickly removed.

On Douglas, a boulder fell onto Douglas Highway about the same time and was also removed, she wrote.

DOT and CBJ maintenance crews were kept busy clearing culverts and storm drains from rain-swept debris but successfully kept streets clear and water moving without serious incident, city and state officials said.

The torrential rain, exceptional even by Juneau’s soggy seasonal standards, comes courtesy of Typhoon Lan, whose remnants have left Asia and have created an “atmospheric river” of subtropical moisture pointed at Southeast Alaska.

Conditions cleared late Friday and into Saturday, leaving mostly sunny skies Saturday and Sunday. More rain is expected with the start of the workweek.

• Contact reporter James Brooks at james.k.brooks@juneauempire.com or call 523-2258.

More in News

Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File
The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014.
Aurora Forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of March. 19

President Joe Biden speaks during an event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, March 23, 2023, celebrating the 13th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act. Recent moves by President Joe Biden to pressure TikTok over its Chinese ownership and approve oil drilling in an untapped area of Alaska are testing the loyalty of young voters, a group that’s been largely in his corner. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
Biden’s moves on Willow, TikTok test young voters

A potential TikTok ban and the Alaska drilling could weigh down reelection bid.

Students dance their way toward exiting the Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé gymnasium near the end of a performance held before a Gold Medal Basketball Tournament game between Juneau and Hydaburg. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Over $2,500 raised for Tlingit language and culture program during Gold Medal performance

A flurry of regionwide generosity generated the funds in a matter of minutes.

Legislative fiscal analysts Alexei Painter, right, and Conor Bell explain the state’s financial outlook during the next decade to the Senate Finance Committee on Friday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Legislators eye oil and sales taxes due to fiscal woes

Bills to collect more from North Slope producers, enact new sales taxes get hearings next week.

The FBI Anchorage Field Office is seeking information about this man in relation to a Wednesday bank robbery in Anchorage, the agency announced Thursday afternoon. Anyone with information regarding the bank robbery can contact the FBI Anchorage Field Office at 907-276-4441 or tips.fbi.gov. Tips can be submitted anonymously.  (FBI)
FBI seeks info in Anchorage bank robbery

The robbery took place at 1:24 p.m. on Wednesday.

Kevin Maier
Sustainable Alaska: Climate stories, climate futures

The UAS Sustainability Committee is hosting a series of public events in April…

Reps. Tom McKay, R-Anchorage, and Andi Story, D-Juneau, offering competing amendments to a bill increasing the per-student funding formula for public schools by $1,250 during a House Education Committee meeting Wednesday morning. McKay’s proposal to lower the increase to $150 was defeated. Story’s proposal to implement an increase during the next two years was approved, after her proposed amounts totalling about $1,500 were reduced to $800.
Battle lines for education funding boost get clearer

$800 increase over two years OKd by House committee, Senate proposing $1,348 two-year increase

A call for a joint session of the Alaska State Legislature to cast a vote that would reject recently-approved salary increases for legislators and top executive branch officials is made by State House Speaker Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla, during a press conference Tuesday. Senate President Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak, rejected the joint session in a letter to Tilton on Wednesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
House efforts to nix legislative pay raises hit Senate roadblock

Call for a joint session rejected by upper chamber, bills to overturn pay hikes may lack support

A simulated photo shows the tailings stack and other features of Hecla Greens Creek Mine under the most aggressive of four alternatives for expanding the mine in an environmental impact assessment published Thursday by the U.S Forest Service. The tailings stack is modestly to drastically smaller in the other alternatives. The public comment period for the study is from March 24 to May 8. (U.S. Forest Service)
New study digs into alternatives for Greens Creek Mine expansion

Public comment starts Friday on four options that could extend mine’s life up to 40 years

Most Read