“This will be one of the most severe Bering Sea storms on record,” the NWS wrote today... “This storm has the potential to produce widespread damage,” the NWS in Fairbanks said.
Alaska is facing a life threatening winter storm with near hurricane force winds, more than a foot of snow and severe coastal flooding, the National Weather Service says.
"This is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening storm which will be one of the worst on record over the Bering Sea and the west coast," NWS forecasters said in a bulletin Monday afternoon. The storm was about 600 miles southwest of Shemya in the far western Aleutian Islands on Monday afternoon and was expected to move over the Bering Sea toward Alaska's west coast on Tuesday.
Winds near hurricane force of 74 mph were expected to generate seas as high as 25 feet in the northern Bering Sea, forecasters said. The winds were expected to raise sea levels as much as 9 feet in the Norton Sound. Those levels combined with the high waves were expected to cause significant coastal erosion and major flooding. The winds may also push sea ice on shore, adding to the dangers, NWS forecasters said. Alaska's west coast could also see as much as 14 inches of snow in blizzard conditions, forecasters said. The storm was expected to last into Wednesday. - CNN.
A ferocious, dangerous storm in the north Pacific is on a collision course with the west coast of Alaska. Referred to as the “Bering Sea Superstorm” by the National Weather Service Office in Fairbanks (NWS), damaging winds, severe beach erosion and major coastal flooding are expected. In some locations, heavy snow and blizzard conditions are also forecast. “This will be one of the most severe Bering Sea storms on record,” the NWS wrote today. The storm is predicted to deepen at an incredible rate, with its central pressure crashing from 973 mb this morning to 945-950 mb tonight. “This storm has the potential to produce widespread damage,” the NWS in Fairbanks said. Sustained winds of 80 mph (with gusts to 90 mph in some locations) may impact an area the size of Colorado with offshore waves to more than 40 feet according to the NWS Facebook page. A storm surge of 8 to 10 feet is predicted along the coast. The combination of wind, waves, and high sea levels will create many hazards as described by the NWS in a Special Weather Statement:THE HIGH SEA LEVELS COMBINED WITH HIGH WAVES WILL PRODUCE SEVERE BEACH EROSION AND MAJOR COASTAL FLOODING ALONG THE NORTHERN AND EASTERN SHORES OF NORTON SOUND AND ALONG THE BERING STRAIT COAST. HIGH WATER LEVELS WILL PRODUCE COASTAL FLOODING ALONG THE SOUTHERN SHORE OF NORTON SOUND. STRONG WINDS AND WAVE ACTION MAY PUSH ICE IN NORTON BAY ON SHORE.
Blinding snow is another big concern. NWS cautioned:THE STORM WILL ALSO PRODUCE SIGNIFICANT SNOWFALL AND BLIZZARD CONDITIONS OVER ALMOST ALL OF THE WEST COAST TUESDAY NIGHT AND WEDNESDAY. SNOWFALL AMOUNTS OF AS MUCH AS 14 INCHES ARE EXPECTED ALONG THE SOUTHERN SEWARD PENINSULA COAST AND IN PARTS OF THE INTERIOR SEWARD PENINSULA.
A direct hit is forecast for Nome, Alaska where the conditions will resemble a snow hurricane. Sustained winds of 45-60 mph (with higher gusts) and 8-14 inches of snow are forecast along with a storm surge as high as 8 feet early Wednesday evening (local time) at the coast. The NWS likens the storm to the November 11-12, 1974 storm which is the strongest in that city’s 113 years of records. “Major differences between the 1974 storm and this upcoming storm include the fact that tides were much greater in the 1974 storm,” NWS said. “However, sea ice extent is currently much lower than it was in 1974, thus providing no protection along the coast and greater fetch.” - Washington Post.
UPDATE: Mass Evacuations - "EPIC UNUSUAL STORM" Hits Alaska!
Evacuations have begun in some Alaska coastal communities, including Nome (see below), ahead of a powerful storm that's moving across the Bering Sea toward the western Alaska coast. The storm, packing hurricane-force winds, has the potential for coastal flooding, extensive beach erosion and serious damage, according to the National Weather Service. "This will be extremely dangerous and life threatening storm of an epic magnitude rarely experienced," the Weather Service said in a bulletin earlier today. - Anchorage Daily News.
Police in Nome report roof damage to homes, but otherwise the small Alaska city appears to be making it through the huge storm sweeping the state's western coastline. Communications officer Zane Brown says the height of snow and hurricane-force winds hit at about 2 a.m. He says Nome continues to prepare for a possible Bering Sea surge at high tide later in the morning, but so far damage is minimal. Brown says a voluntary evacuation moved residents from beachfront businesses and homes to shelters at a community center and a church. Planning section chief Mark Roberts of the state emergency operations center tells KTUU-TV that west coast communities were reporting isolated power and communications interruptions. But he says it's too early for a complete picture of damage. - Seattle PI.WATCH: Powerful Storm Heads Toward Coastal Alaska.
NOTE: Contribution from Joann Chan-McKeon.