GATHERING OF CULTURES – Dorothy Gordon holds year-old Marilyn De La Torre as they perform an entrance song Thursday at the B.J McGillis Gym during the annual Gathering of Cultures. A Tlingit dance group made up of several Sitka Tlingit dance groups opened the gathering. Mt. Edgecumbe High School’s student dance groups representing cultural groups from five regions of Alaska also performed. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

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Daily Sitka Sentinel

Heavy Rain Raises Sitka Landslide Risk Level


Sentinel Staff Writer

Over an inch of rain fell in Sitka through Wednesday, and more is anticipated today and into the weekend as an atmospheric river deluges Southeast, the National Weather Service says.

For the time being, the northern sections of the Panhandle, including Sitka, are seeing the worst of the storm front, but it’s likely to shift south as today wears on, NWS meteorologist Spencer Fielding said from his Juneau office this morning.

Tourists try to stay dry this morning on Lincoln Street. Over an inch of rain fell in Sitka through Wednesday, and more is anticipated today and into the weekend as an atmospheric river deluges Southeast, the National Weather Service says. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

“We have an area of low pressure that is in the Gulf of Alaska right now that’s moving inland and it has picked up some moisture from the tropics and subtropics with it,” Fielding said, “so it’s carrying it north as well, as it’s moving through the area. A lot of the area, the central and northern Panhandle are seeing a lot of rain at the moment. The southern Panhandle is not for the time being, but they will get their chance later this evening.”

A total of 1.04 inches of rain was measured for Wednesday at the Sitka airport, with more coming. As of 10 a.m. today another 1.5 inches had been logged. Today’s NWS forecast calls for up to 2 inches of rain, with winds between 10 and 15 miles per hour, gusting as high as 30.

High winds are characteristic of an atmospheric river, Fielding noted, with buoys at Dixon Entrance clocking sustained winds of 30 knots with gusts to 35 over the last 24 hours. Closer to Sitka, the buoy at Cape Edgecumbe was calmer, but winds there were still around 15 knots and are expected to intensify today, Fielding said.

“It’s more offshore winds that are really the big issue right now… Peak rainfall for Sitka is really going to be (today) and then it’s going to taper off into this evening, and Sitka really will be moving out of the worst of it by then,” he said.

Sitka is under a National Weather Service flood watch until noon Friday.

“Excessive runoff may result in flooding of rivers, creeks, streams, other low-lying areas and flood-prone locations. Area creeks and streams are running high and could flood with more heavy rain. Isolated landslides are possible in areas of steep terrain,” the NWS watch notice states. As of this afternoon, the Sitka landslide dashboard,, registered medium landslide risk for today, but low risk Friday and Saturday.

Along with the flood watch, NWS has issued gale warnings and small craft advisories for the waters around Southeast. Also today, the city advised residents with boats moored in local harbors to check that their bilge pumps work and deck drains are clear.

But even after this system passes, Fielding said, another front is ready to hit Sitka Saturday, when an invitational cross country meet is scheduled here. More rain is expected next week. Sitka’s forecast is published at

“Saturday will be another system. We’re still looking at what it’s going to entail with that,” Fielding said. “Right now, I can’t tell you exactly if it’s going to be an atmospheric river or not, because we’re still watching the forecast to see what it looks like it’ll be.”

He advised Sitkans to remain vigilant for the remainder of the week.

“Be aware of the weather – it’s looking like it’s going to be a very active week of weather across the area with more systems moving through,” he said. “Some stronger, some may be weaker.”

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At a Glance

(updated 9-12-2023)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 8:57 a.m. Tuesday, September 12.

New cases as of Tuesday: 278

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 301,513

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,485

Case Rate per 100,000 – 38.14

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

COVID in Sitka

The Sitka community level is now "Low.'' Case statistics are as of Tuesday.

Case Rate/100,000 – 152.50

Cases in last 7 days – 13

Cumulative Sitka cases – 3,575

Deceased (cumulative) – 10

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.






March 2004

Photo caption: Fire engines and ambulances shine in the sun outside the new fire hall Saturday during an open house. Hundreds turned out to look over the $4 million facility, which is twice the size of the building it replaced. It features a state-of-the-art exhaust system and much larger offices and a large training room.


March 1974

The Sheldon Jackson Museum will have a special showing of replicas of ancient Tlingit hunting weapons. The replicas were made by A. P. Johnson, a Tlingit  culture instructor and metal arts teacher at SJC.


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