Alaska braces for

Alaska is prepared for dangerous weather as the remnants of Typhoon Merbok move toward the Bering Sea region. Forecasters predict Friday’s storm could bring “potentially historic” flooding, with some coastal areas seeing water levels up to 11 feet higher than normal high tide.

The National Weather Service predicted Friday morning, “The latest models show more coastal enhancement than the November 2011 storm, which brought significant flooding to the area,” adding that the flooding could be “potentially historic.”

“This is a dangerous storm that will produce widespread coastal flooding south of the Bering Strait, the water level of which has been observed in nearly 50 years,” the service said.

According to the service, the state is expected to see hurricane-force winds of up to 90 mph and wave heights of up to 48 feet. Coastal flooding can go over 12 feet on the western mainland. Depending on the location, gusts of 40 to 80 mph can occur in other areas between Friday and Saturday night. According to the service the main concern is flooding, structural damage and blown power lines,

Much of Alaska’s west coast is already under alert and monitoring. All areas of the coastline from Quinhagac to Point Hope are subject to coastal flooding and high wind warnings, while the northern coastal areas extending to Cape Lisburn and Lake Teshachapook are under coastal flood watch. In Nome, the water level will be 11 feet above normal high tide and the city’s mayor said Thursday that residents of Belmont Point should “be prepared for a possible evacuation.”

The water level in Golovin can go up to 13 feet above normal. The Anchorage Office of the National Weather Service said the storm’s overall humidity is “quite extreme” with enough moisture to be as high as “200 to 300% of normal”.

The National Weather Service said widespread power cuts are also expected, and the worst water level is expected on Saturday.

Rick Thoman, a climatologist at the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy, said the situation is a “worst-case coastal flood scenario” for the Bering Sea coast. The Anchorage Office of the Weather Service reported that the storm extended “about 500 miles in all directions from low center”.

“It’s very serious: Some communities are likely to see the worst coastal flooding in 50 years,” Thoman said, echoing the National Weather Service’s warning.

Meteorologist Ed Plumb told the Associated Press that the storm will be “the deepest or strongest storm we’ve ever seen in September,” a fact that makes it a “quite unusual storm.”

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