Front cyclone Merbok hits western Alaska with historic storm surge, 90-mph winds and 50-foot seas

Golovan, Alaska — A historic storm swept across western Alaska on Friday and Saturday, bringing hurricane-strength winds, more than 50 feet of water and coastal flooding not seen in decades.

Once-typhoon Maybok morphed into a powerful North Pacific storm as it headed almost north and crossed the Aleutian Islands on Friday and entered the Bering Sea on Saturday, bringing a dangerous storm surge that inundated coastal villages and towns. hours under water several feet deep.

Water levels in Unalakleet exceeded 11 feet Saturday morning and are expected to peak at 15 feet later Saturday afternoon, one of the largest water peaks on record, according to the National Weather Service.

Severe flooding has been reported in Golovan, with a pair of rain and wind hitting the coastal town.

There was water around the school, and houses and other structures were flooded. “Some homes have floated off their foundations and some fuel tanks have tipped,” wrote the National Weather Service in Fairbanks.

Maximum water levels are not expected to be reached until Saturday afternoon. Meanwhile, there were winds of up to 62 miles per hour.

Alaska Storm Surge Forecast
(Fox Weather)

Shaktoolik on the Bering Sea pushes over berms and water enters coastal communities, close to flooded houses. Residents have been evacuated to schools and clinics in the town.

In Nome, a peak wave height of 12.45 feet is expected late Saturday – 9 feet above the high tide line, and water levels at Red Dog will be 5 feet above the high tide line.

Winds above 90 mph

The storm surge was driven by strong winds surrounding the deep storm’s center, which dropped as low as 937 millibars as it approached the Aleutian Islands.

Wind gusts of 91 mph were measured at Cape Romantsov, while gusts in St. Petersburg reached 74 mph. Paul Island, 62 mph in Adak and Golovin.

At sea, the storm produced waves of more than 50 feet. A buoy 310 miles north of Adak reported surf heights approaching 52 feet late Friday morning amid gusts of 74 mph.

“Even though it’s not officially a typhoon — we might call it a hurricane (in the U.S.) — it still has all the powerful energy it has,” said FOX Weather meteorologist Britta Merwin. “In high winds, you push That means sea levels will rise and coastal flooding and storm surges are a problem.”

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To make matters worse, if the storm slows as it leaves the North Pole, high water levels will persist for 10 to 14 hours, pushing wind waves on top of the surge inland and causing additional damage.

“The impact could exceed that of the 2011 Bering Sea superstorm, with some locations likely to experience the worst coastal flooding in nearly 50 years,” a National Weather Service forecaster in Fairbanks wrote Friday morning.

“The storm was big,” Merwin said. “It still retains all of these characteristics of a typhoon, but now it’s a cold core system — a non-tropical storm — and it’s going to blow Alaska with some very strong winds.”

Severe storm systems are common in Alaska, but extratropical cyclones with pressures below 940 mbar are uncommon.The latest surface analysis as of 8 a.m. ET estimated the storm’s central pressure at 937 mb, which is low point in september Measured in the region for at least the past 17 years.

“It’s definitely going to be a major event,” said the National Weather Service office in Fairbanks, Alaska. “It’s shaping up to be one of the worst events we’ve seen in years.”

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Communities such as Adak, Unalaska, St. Paul, St. Both Johns and Bethel will be near the center of the storm, where wind and rain will be greatest.

“For most Alaskan communities, when a storm hits, they don’t have the ability to evacuate. So, they usually go to a community shelter, which is a safe option,” said Jeremy Zidek, Alaska Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management public information officer. “Supply chain issues, traffic issues and weather issues are a regular occurrence, so people have to be very resilient to live in those areas.”

Ahead of the worst of the weather, the NWS has issued multiple warnings including coastal flood warnings, storm warnings and high wind warnings.

Alaska Wind Warning
(Fox Weather)

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Meteorologists and first responders are most concerned about the marine communities that produce most of the nation’s seafood.

Pacific salmon, crab, Pacific cod, shrimp, herring, black cod, and Pacific halibut are all produced in Alaska, contributing more than $5 billion in economic activity to Alaska each year.

Front wind Maybock will have impact on US weather

Typhoon Merbok, one of several important storm systems from the western Pacific, is expected to be drawn into the jet stream and affect U.S. weather.

Unusually warm waters in the North Pacific are one component that helps enhance the life cycle and intensity of northern cyclones, but not enough to help them maintain tropical cyclone status into northern latitudes.

Similar to the Atlantic Basin, the typhoon season in the Pacific Northwest is falling behind normal, seeing only about half the storms they are used to seeing by mid-September.

Typhoons Muifa, Shinnam Noor and Merbok have seen increased activity in the western Pacific in recent weeks.

Most, if not all, will result in impacts to Alaska, including rain, wind, and high seas, meaning the 49th state could be stockpiled during the rainy season.

Experts at the NWS Climate Prediction Centre expect weeks of above-average rainfall in the state.

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