Wednesday, January 19, 1972, 32 years ago, A Clear, Eventful,
EXTREMELY WINDY, Very Cold day with Taku Winds.
Mt. Juneau, 3,576 feet, Juneau, Alaska. The
avalanche originated at the top of the streak
of white running down the mountain right
of center. Mt. Maria is the foothill to the
right. Picture taken February 4, 2005 by
O. Richard Kent.
11:07 A.M. PST (Juneau was on Pacific Time then):
KINY Radio's tower (reported to be 500' tall)
on the A.J. Rock Dump blew over, putting
1 of the only 2 radio stations in town at
the time off the air. Gusts were to some
100 m.p.h.; chill factor -60 degrees below
2:15 PM PST (Approximately):
A HUGE Snowslide on Mt. Juneau at the main
waterfall-drainage visible from downtown
Juneau on the Last Chance Basin side of the
Speed of the air blast is estimated at 180 m.p.h.
Downtown Juneau including the Federal Building is engulfed in the tremendous billowing
cloud of snow, snow reaches Douglas Island and our house. To this date (January 19, 2004)
there has not been an avalanche since in any way equivalent to the 1972 avalanche.
Gold Creek is dammed by the slide and Basin Road along the NW side of Mt. Maria
is buried under the snow.
The Municipal Water System of Juneau is put out of commission for 2 days because
of the destruction of the Spring Line where it crosses Gold Creek and the electric power lines in Last
Chance Basin that supplied power to the well pumps were damaged. A check valve at the 8th Street Reservoir then
malfunctioned because of a block of wood, allowing the water to drain out of the reservoir. Because of the 40" - 45" of
snow in the front yard of 3270 Nowell Avenue (then numbered 240) there was plenty of snow to melt
for water..the bathtub was filled with snow so it could melt and be an in-house reservoir.
One of the pictures of the slide as it happened, taken by Juneau resident
Jonathan "Skip" Gray from the A.J. Rock Dump was featured in the September 1982 issue of "National Geographic"
on pages 292-293 in the article "Avalanche! Battling the Juggernaut" pages 290-305.
MEANWHILE ON DOUGLAS ISLAND:
Mrs. Marie Kent in the morning was holding a "Sarah Circle" women's
church group meeting at the house and wondering if the large windows in the Living Room were going
to blow out from the wind. When the avalanche occurred and the snow reached 240, Mrs. Kent did not
know immediately what was happening.
David the author, was in Gastineau Elementary School on 3rd Street in Douglas
in the 4th grade classroom of Mrs. Kreuzenstein listening to the Taku winds whistling through the gaps in the aluminum
window frames. He was totally unaware of what else was going on in town; school was let out when the water system failed.
Mr. O. Richard (Dick) Kent Contracting
Officer for the U.S.D.A. Forest Service
on the 5th floor (SE side of building...the
side opposite Mt. Juneau) of the Federal
Building came home
at +/- 4:00 P.M. after the Juneau water
system failed and the 8th Street reservoir
had run dry (no water at
240 Nowell by 3:45 P.M.). Earlier in
the afternoon Mr. Kent had come home to
the tarps over
our 22' Sabre Craft cabin cruiser boat
stored in the front yard, which were
torn off by the winds.
Copyright January 19, 2004 by David A. Kent