Northwest Alaska in Danger of Storm Surge, Flooding

The worst of the Bering Sea storm is not over, at least for the Northwest part of the state, says the National Weather Service.

Meteorologist Don Moore, says the danger now is storm surge and flooding.

“We are looking at the winds that are decreasing through the morning and into the afternoon, however, the storm surge that has been slowly rolling in is going to be taking aim at the Western and the Southern part of the Sound now,” Moore said.

The weather service is expecting surges to rise to 4 to 8 feet beyond maximum tide levels. Residents in St. Michael, Unalakleet, Shaktoolik, Koyuk, and Golovin are especially vulnerable.

“We just want to make sure that with the winds dying down that we don’t think that the worst is over. The storm surge is still yet to come,” Moore said.

The surge comes after the area was pummeled by high winds. The highest gusts were seen in Wales at 89 miles per hour.  Point Hope had gusts of 78 miles per hour, and Savoonga at 76.

Winds also beat through coastal communities in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, and further south along the West Coast. Hooper Bay saw gusts of 70 miles per hour. Their city office says that’s when the weather instruments broke at about 8 p.m. About 70 miles inland at Bethel, there were gusts of 56 miles per hour.

The weather service says that’s the worst of the storm that Southwest Alaska will see.

Now, the State’s Emergency Management Service is busy contacting communities as far south as the Aleutians to see how they fared.

“Everyone needs to work with their local communities as you look for what damage has been done,” John Madden said.

John Madden is the Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Services. He says residents should first check in with their tribal and city offices about damages to homes, businesses, roads and other infrastructure. The State is checking with those community leaders.

“To get the latest information about what did it do, what do you need, what are any damages so that we can document it quickly. As we’re doing that we’re still focusing on the northern part of the coast where they are just now coming into the most serious area,” Madden said.

Although the worst of the storm has passed through Southwest Alaska, Madden says they are asking residents to remain cautious, keep abreast of weather warnings, and for those living in low lying areas to give the water time to recede before returning home.