Nome Expected to be Among Hardest Hit

Photo courtesy of KNOM Radio Mission

Western Alaska communities are bracing for one of the

Nome is expected to be one of the hardest hit communities.

Winds are picking up this afternoon in Nome as the storm moves in.

The national weather service says Nome could see sustained winds to 60 miles per hour.  St. Lawrence Island may see sustained winds at 70 and gusts to 90 miles per hour.   Up to 14 inches of snow is expected, with 8 or more feet of storm surge moving in tonight.  Jerry Steiger from the national weather service says sea levels are rising rapidly this evening.  When Combined with 10 or 15 foot wind waves, Steiger says Front street will get wet.

Charlie Lean of the Local emergency planning committee says the seawall can hold around 18 feet of water.  With big waves, water can splash over.

The Nome Emergency Operations Center has issued evacuation orders for low lying areas including the downtown Front street area and neighborhoods near the port.  Nome Incident Commander Chip Leeper.

The order is expected to remain in effect for 48 hours. The Nome Rec center is opening as the primary shelter for displaced families.

Leeper says volunteers will also be closing off  hazardous areas.

Gambell, St. Michael, and Savoonga have each had a handful of
residents voluntarily evacuate to the gym.  Several Norton Sound
communities closed down school early and opening the school for an emergency shelter.   VHF radios are serving as the  communications lifeline between residents.

Diomede is expecting hurricane force winds and with waves at high tide hitting 28 feet.  Residents are concerned about losing power, which could take several days to restore. Due to construction at the Diomede school, the emergency shelter has been moved to the city office.

Kivilina is located on an island in the Chukchi Sea and has dealt with major floods and erosion in the past. City Manger Janet Mitchell in says the community is depending on a 14 foot rock revetment wall to protect structures from storm surge.

The school is 19 feet above sea level and will be the emergency shelter. Volunteers parked a loader and boats by the school should they be needed to rescue people from their homes. Mitchell says power lines are a concern and have already been impacted by the storm.

Across the region, volunteers and emergency personal have been working around the clock to prepare for the storm. On front street in Nome, windows are boarded up as the surge moves in and winds to 47 miles per hour rock power lines rock back and forth.

Residents are seeing the first stages of the system.  The  worst of the storm should hit tonight.

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