Windstorm shatters window, rattles nerves

Howling winds rattled Cordova, causing buildings to shake and glass to shatter.

Around 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 6, strong winds and rain ripped through town. The Eyak Inn’s walls trembled as rain blew sideways.

David Janka, owner of Auklet Charter Services, said that readings from the National Weather Station in the Cordova Boat Harbor calculated the peak wind gust at 71 mph.

However, Janka guessed that it easily reached 80 mph.

Boats in the harbor seemed to fair well during the storm, including the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Sycamore.

“I’m happy to say the ship did not sustain any storm damage; only damage was to our brow (walkway) leading from the pier onto the ship, which is already fixed,” said Jack Sloan, executive officer of the USCG Sycamore.

While last night’s storm was startling, Cordova isn’t new to extreme windstorms.

“I think the worst we had was right before Christmas … eight or nine years ago,” said Janka, recalling winds sustaining 90 mph and gusts the next day of 150 mph.

More recently, a storm ripped through Cordova 11 months ago to-the-day on Jan. 6, 2017, causing extensive damage to the 6.5 Mile community.

Still, the latest storm was enough to shatter Rachel Hoover’s window, leaving her partner, Matt Honkola, with a gash on his right leg from falling glass.

“That’s what woke him up,” Hoover said. “He didn’t know what was going on.”

Hoover, who lives on the corner of Center Drive and Chase Avenue, said she could hear the wind picking up, getting louder as the night went on. Soon, the window shattered, spraying glass onto the nearby bed.

“I guess adrenaline kicked in and Matt woke up and we got out of the room as quick as possible,” she said.

They grabbed their children from nearby bedrooms and spent the rest of the night in the living room.

“We got the bleeding to stop and just hunkered down,” Hoover said. “It could have been so much worse. The curtains saved us I think.”

Hoover and Honkola have already had their window fixed and are drying out bedding from the rain.

“We are very thankful for those who checked in on us and offered us places to stay. Cordova is amazing,” Hoover said.

High winds are expected throughout Thursday and into Friday, with winds predicted to reach 25 mph.

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Emily Mesner is a staff reporter and photographer for The Cordova Times. Reach her at Emily graduated from Central Michigan University, earning a degree in photojournalism with a cultural competency certificate. She first visited Alaska in 2016, working as a media intern for the National Park Service in Kotzebue and Denali National Park and Preserve, and has been coming back ever since. To see more photos, follow @thecordovatimes and @emilymesnerphoto on Instagram.