Wednesday, January 19, 1972, 32 years ago, A Clear, Eventful,
EXTREMELY WINDY, Very Cold day with Taku Winds.

Mt. Juneau, 3,576 ft., Juneau, Alaska.

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 zero.

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 mountain.

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.


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 in Room 527 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 tie down the tarps over our 22' Sabre Craft cabin cruiser boat stored in the front yard, which were being torn off by the winds.

Copyright January 19, 2004 by David A. Kent