A chart shows gale-force winds of up to 70 miles per hour are expected in downtown Juneau and Douglas on Wednesday. (National Weather Service Juneau)

A chart shows gale-force winds of up to 70 miles per hour are expected in downtown Juneau and Douglas on Wednesday. (National Weather Service Juneau)

Gale-force winds of 70 mph expected in parts of Juneau starting Wednesday afternoon

Wet week of snow and rain also ahead as new front moves in, according to forecast

This story has been updated with additional information.

An intense storm is expected to return to Juneau following a brief post-holiday lull, with gale-force winds of about 70 miles per hour forecast in downtown Juneau and Douglas beginning Wednesday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service Juneau.

A high wind warning for the downtown area between noon and 9 p.m. was issued at midday by the weather service.

Winds will be lower in other parts of town such as the airport, where sustained winds of 15 mph and gusts to 35 mph are forecast. However, gusts exceeding 70 mph are expected in some mountain peak areas such as the vicinity of the Mendenhall Glacier, said Caleb Cravens, a meteorologist for NWS Juneau, in an interview Wednesday morning.

A notice posted at the NWS Juneau Facebook page at about 1:40 p.m. stated a wind speed of 105 mph was recorded at the top of the 3,542-foot-high Sheep Mountain.

Sustained winds downtown are expected to be about 30 to 35 mph when the new storm arrives, Cravens said.

“But these events are pretty challenging to really pinpoint on exactly what it does because there’s several ingredients that need to happen from these mountain waves — or other(wise) known as Taku winds — to really develop,” he said. “And so it’s one of those things we need to monitor during the event.”

In addition, moderate mixed rain and snow are also in the forecast for much of the coming week. Temperatures are expected to range from the low 30s to about 40 degrees.

“We have a front coming in, basically today, and we’re expecting light snow as the front moves in,” he said. “But we are expecting a transition to rain basically by Thursday evening. Before that we’re expecting some wide accumulation, but just a couple of inches.”

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

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