The predicted arrival of one of the fiercest storms the state has seen in more than a decade has residents along Alaska’s western coast preparing to batten down the hatches on Friday.
Meteorologists have issued warnings of hurricane-force winds and heavy rain that could cause significant flooding.
The National Weather Service predicts that Typhoon Merbok’s remnants will continue to be a strong storm system as it moves across the Bering Sea region, which straddles the northern Pacific Ocean between Alaska and Russia, from Friday through Sunday.
The National Weather Service cautioned that “this is a hazardous storm that is predicted to produce significant coastal flooding south of the Bering Strait with water levels nearing levels not seen in nearly 50 years.”
Along the Alaskan coast, “strong and damaging” wind gusts of up to 90 mph were forecast, and severe storm surges were also mentioned.
Starting late on Friday, a surge of 8 to 11 feet is anticipated in Nome, with surges of 9 to 13 feet predicted at Golovin and 12 to 18 feet predicted throughout the coast from Elim to Koyuk.
Additionally, the National Weather Service issued coastal flood advisories for Friday that covered areas of southwest Alaska up to the Chukchi Sea coast in the state’s northwest.
Beginning on Saturday morning, an extra warning was issued for the Chukchi Sea coast and Kotzebue Sound.
With wind gusts up to 65 mph, residents living north of the Bering Strait will see less severe weather, according to meteorologists.
The last time Alaska experienced weather this bad was in 2011 when an extratropical storm powered by cold air instead of hot like a cyclone or tropical storm tore across the region and left great devastation in its wake.