Massive Typhoon Bears Down on Aleutian Islands

An Alaska-sized storm could bring high winds and destructive waves to the Aleutian and Pribilof islands this weekend.

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“This low-pressure system is going to be the size of two-thirds of the United States,” says Matthew Clay. He’s been tracking the storm for the National Weather Service.

Typhoon Nuri is expected to reach Shemya and Attu on Friday. (Courtesy of National Weather Service)
Typhoon Nuri is expected to reach Shemya and Attu on Friday. (Courtesy of National Weather Service)

Right now, Typhoon Nuri is churning off the coast of Japan. It’s been downgraded from a super storm. But Clay says it’s going to gather steam once it hits the jet stream and starts traveling across the Pacific Ocean.

“As this happens, we’re looking at the low to undergo some rapid cyclogenesis — which means it’s going to deepen very quickly, become much stronger and it’s going to produce the potential for hurricane-force winds in the western Aleutians,” Clay says.

They’ll make landfall in Shemya and Attu on Friday. By Saturday, Adak and Atka could see gusts of up to 100 miles per hour and seas up to 50 feet.

The storm’s not expected to have the same impact in Unalaska. The winds will blow in from the southwest at reduced speeds. And Clay says the island’s topography could block them.

But that’s not going to be the case for St. Paul, in the Pribilofs. Heavy seas up to 32 feet are expected to wash in from the southwest — leading directly into St. Paul’s harbor.

“And if that happens they actually have to close the harbor,” Clay says. “They’ve had damage in the past from systems that produced swells the way we’re expecting them to.”

Mariners have already been warned. Fishermen working in the western Aleutians should be prepared to take cover as well, Clay says.

The National Weather Service will start putting out official storm advisories on Thursday.