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Park Staff Deal With Several Incidents Caused By High Winds

Katmai National Park and Preserve

National Park News

High winds roared over the Alaska Peninsula over the six-day period from July 23rd to July 28th. Sustained winds of 30 to 40 mph occurred throughout the period, with field crews measuring gusts over 70 mph. Several incidents resulted:

  • July 24 – The park’s voicemail recorded a call from Leo House around 5 a.m. reporting a SPOT device activation (SPOT is a portable GPS and satellite communication device used in emergencies). House said that his brother and friends were camped inside the Aniakchak caldera and preparing to float the Aniakchak and Meshik Rivers. Later that morning, a SPOT 911 alert was received. Due to weather restrictions in King Salmon, the Coast Guard was asked to respond. An aircraft from the Kodiak Air Station evacuated three people and flew them to King Salmon. They told park staff that strong winds moved quickly into the area while they were exploring the caldera and destroyed their campsite. Tents were ripped apart and large amounts of gear, including inflatable boats and supplies, were washed away into Surprise Lake. Other camp gear was scattered throughout the 30-square-mile caldera. The trio covered up with tent flies and huddled together through the night. All were rescued without injuries and were suffering only from mild exposure.
  • July 25 – A Cessna 185 flipped over while attempting to take off from Lake Brooks in mid-afternoon. The Cessna, piloted by Cecil Shuman, was taxiing from shore and had just turned to face the wind when it got hit by sustained winds of 40 mph and gusts into the 60s. The left wing was caught by a gust, causing the plane to stand on its nose, then flip onto its back. Shuman and his four passengers were able to escape before the Cessna sank to is floats. Brooks Lodge employees saw the event unfold and responded in their boat. Shortly after, National Park Service maintenance employees responded in an NPS vessel. Three of the five were picked up by the concession boat and the other two by the park boat. Rangers met the victims at the shore and provided EMS care. They were able to change clothes and were warmed aggressively. No injuries were sustained. All five were flown out by another commercial operator later that evening.
  • July 25 – Due to severe winds, several commercial operators ceased flights into or out of Brooks Camp. Park staff and Brooks Lodge took steps to accommodate 63 additional visitors overnight at the camp by housing people in the park's auditorium, visitor center, and government quarters. All visitors were safely accommodated for the evening and all were able to make it out of camp the following day.
  • July 25 – Winds of up to 75 mph stranded a fishing guide and two clients from Enchanted Lake Lodge at the Moraine Creek area. Rangers patrolling in the area met up with the fishermen and provided tent shelter for the night. A sharing of food, shelter and sleeping bags made for a restless but safe night. The visitors and guide were picked up the following morning by their lodge plane.


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