Powerful storm strikes Alaska bringing historic surge, coastal flooding

One of the strongest storms in at least a decade caused coastal flooding in Alaska on Saturday with hurricane force winds, high seas and rain.

Forecasters said a low pressure front in the Bering Strait was moving as wide and strong as any winter storm, but instead of bringing cold weather, it was fed by unstable air from former Typhoon Merbok.

Federal forecasters said the result was 5 inches of rain on the south coast of Anchorage on Saturday, with a flood warning in effect for that coast until 10 p.m.

Hurricane conditions, including wind gusts above 50 mph, were expected overnight for the state’s Arctic and west coasts, prompting Governor Mike Dunleavy to declare a disaster for the affected areas.,

The announcement included the opening of an emergency operations center. Dunlavy said no casualties were reported on Saturday.

Charlie Brown, the mayor of Golovin’s tribal community, said about 40 people were displaced on higher ground. flood flooded Lower half of the city.

In Nome on Saturday afternoon, the National Weather Service noted that there was “Dangerous Coastal Floods” and blamed “a very angry sea”.

“Waves and Storms Are Pushing the Community,” Office tweeted.

there was also a flood informed of In Shaktulik, a small town on the Bering Sea coast. Overnight, several gusts of over 75 mph, which would qualify them as hurricane-force, were Recorded in Adak IslandPart of the Aleutian Islands.

The extreme weather prompted Alaska Airlines to cancel an early morning flight to Nome and Kotjebu as well as Bethel, a statement said.

Flight tracker FlightAware said eight flights to or from Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport were canceled on Saturday, and 35 were delayed.

Water flows down Front Street, just a half-block from the Bering Sea, in Nome, Alaska, on Saturday, September 17, 2022.
Water flows down Front Street, half a block from the Bering Sea, in Nome, Alaska, on Saturday.Peggy Fagerstrom / AP
Water surrounds the Mini Convention Center, which is also home to the conclusion of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, September 17, 2022 in Nome, Alaska.
Water surrounds the Mini Convention Center, which is also home to the conclusion of Saturday’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Nome, Alaska.Peggy Fagerstrom / AP

The front, which was heading north, represents a strange brew for Earth scientists.

“It gets its energy from the warm sea surface,” said Alan Shriver, a National Weather Service meteorologist who spoke to Anchorage. “This is an exceptionally rare event.”

The National Weather Service office in Fairbanks warned that the storm could be the strongest in more than a decade.

“The impacts could exceed those of the Bering Sea superstorm of 2011, and some places may have experienced their worst coastal flooding in nearly 50 years,” it said in a statement. Tweet Thursday. “The peak water level will persist for 10 to 14 hours before the water recedes.”

In Saturday’s video briefing on the storm, National Weather Service meteorologist Ed Plumb said the front exceeded those expectations, at least when the storm hit Point Hope in the Chukchi Sea at higher than average high tides on Saturday. Measured 6 to 8 feet up. 10 to 12 feet along the Bering Sea coast.

“The surge in Nome surpassed the superstorm of 2011 and the great hurricane of 1974,” he said.

On the state’s west coast, Plumb said the storm was still at a peak, which was expected Saturday night. The Yukon Delta could see its worst flooding of the event.

“We are expecting that the water level will continue to rise,” he said.

Bua recorded waves on Friday over 50 feet The lowest pressure ever recorded in the south central Bering Sea, and at sea in September, was recorded on Friday but remained unverified, Shriver said.

US Coast Guard Petty Officer Ian Gray said Saturday that seas were 25 to 30 feet along the state’s west coast, with winds of up to 30 mph. Small boats were advised to remain in port, and the agency had at least two cutters in the Bering Sea and two helicopters on Kodiak.

“We’re ready,” said Gray.

The state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management called for a heightened state of awareness because a “strong storm” was on the way.

“There has not been such a strong September storm in the North Bering Sea region in the last 70 years,” tweeted Rick Thoman, a climate expert at the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy.

A Coastal Flood Warning and Strong Wind Warning were in effect for Alaska’s southern Seward Peninsula coast through Sunday.

Federal forecasters said strong winds and heavy rain could be expected over mainland Alaska during the next week. A second, weaker pulse related to the front was expected to move to the coast on Sunday night, according to the National Weather Service.

Forecasters said peace was possible on the mainland by the end of the week.

By then, though, Alaska’s winter weather machine will already have begun churning out the kind of low pressure systems that are the trademark of December, January, February, and March—with a few days of summer still remaining on the calendar.

“This could be the start of our busy time of year,” Shriver said.

jacob caviani And Eric Mendoza contribution,

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