Flooding and damaging winds began affecting parts of Alaska’s west coast Saturday, as a powerful storm threatens the region over the weekend.
The remnants of Typhoon Merbok could produce the state’s heaviest storm in more than a decade, forecasters said.
The storm is responsible for extensive flooding in Golovin and left at least a few homes floating off their foundations, according to a tweet. National Weather Service in Fairbanks.
“The highest water levels that have not been expected so far [Saturday] evening, flooding will worsen,” the tweet said. “Water is surrounding the school, homes and structures are flooded, at least a couple of homes are floating off their foundations, some older fuel tanks are tilted.”
Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy declared a disaster on Saturday for communities affected by the remnants of Typhoon Merbok along the state’s west coast.
There have been no reports of injuries so far, Dunleavy said in a Facebook post.
Weather and local officials urged residents to prepare for the dangerous storm, which had already reported hurricane-force winds and wave heights of more than 50 feet in the Bering Sea Friday morning.
“As we receive more reports, we cannot stress this enough. PLEASE do not go to flooded areas. Remember, turn around, don’t drown. It only takes 6″ to sweep your feet off,” warned the NWS in Fairbanks.
The storm generally packs winds of 40 mph to 60 mph, with gusts as high as 90 mph, according to the weather service. Water levels may be 12 to 18 feet above normal in some bays, with widespread areas 3 to 10 feet above normal.
That’s why weather officials have advised caution to allow storms to overrun critical infrastructure and clear roads.
As of late Friday, the Fairbanks weather service said water levels in the town of Golovin were rising rapidly.
“The water continues to rise and will rise throughout the night. Significant impacts may follow. be safe”, weather service he said
The water will take about 10 to 14 hours to recede, and the weather service has warned that the flooding will continue on Saturday night.
The storm has prompted numerous extreme weather warnings for coastal flooding, high winds and the threat of severe low-level turbulence over western Alaska, according to the weather service.
Coastal flood watches have also been issued for all of Alaska’s west coast, from north of the Arctic Circle down the Kuskokwim Delta coast.
“Strong winds and coastal flooding will continue to increase Saturday afternoon local time. Peak winds are likely to occur Saturday morning into the night, as well as the worst coastal flooding,” CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam said.
Saturday afternoon, water levels in Unalakleet, Shaktoolik and Golovin are expected to reach at least 10 feet above high tide and winds are expected to reach 50 mph with gusts as high as 90 mph. weather service
Other areas including Shishmaref, Wales and Kivalina could see water reach at least 5 feet or higher this weekend.
In Nome, the water level is now at 10.27 meters, surpassing the significant storms of 2011 and 2004, according to a tweet from the NWS. Water levels are still rising and are expected to peak this afternoon before slowly receding.
City officials in Nome have opened a recreation center as an emergency shelter and asked more than 10,000 residents to prepare.
The Norton Sound station in Nome is reporting a water level of 8.22 meters above normal high tide, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
“Harbor users must protect boats and vessels in the harbor and at Belmont Point. Please check your lines and gear regularly to prevent loss,” the town of Nome said on its Facebook page.
Nome, which has more than 9,800 residents, is reporting street closures on River Street, “F” Street and Seppala Drive.
Meanwhile, the state’s Division of Safety and Emergency Management said local agencies were aware of the storm and were preparing to respond.
In 2011, Alaska was hit by a storm system that left widespread destruction. Like Merbok, it was an extratropical storm in 2011. Such a storm or cyclone has cold air at its core, unlike a tropical storm or cyclone which has a warm core. Both can cause significant damage from strong winds, heavy rains and storm surges.
While most areas will see about 1 inch of rain with this storm, some could get as much as 3 inches over the weekend.
Even if Anchorage – more than 500 miles from Nome – receives 1 to 2 inches of rainfall from this storm, it will make this year one of the five wettest years on record. The weather service in Anchorage said winds peaked at 65 to 75 mph Friday night across the Kuskokwim Delta.