Worst of Bering Sea Storm Over for Aleutian Island Residents

Bering Sea November 8, 2014
Bering Sea
November 8, 2014

A potent low-pressure system is quickly losing power over the Bering Sea.

From the western Aleutian Islands to the Pribilofs, National Weather Service meteorologist Shaun Baines says “everybody has seen the worst of it.”

“Originally, all indications were that this low was going to progress a little bit further into the Bering Sea before it slowed down,” Baines says.

That would have made for rougher seas and higher winds near Adak and Atka. Instead, the storm stalled out in the southwest Bering Sea. And the biggest winds and waves struck in an area where few people were actually around to see them — the far western Aleutian Islands.

The top gust was clocked at 96 miles per hour on Shemya Friday morning. It’s not clear how big the waves got, since the National Weather Service’s weather buoy wasn’t transmitting full data reports.

So far, no major damage has been reported along the Aleutians or Pribilofs as a result of the storm. The Coast Guard has been monitoring the region, but Petty Officer Diana Honings says there had been no emergencies as of Saturday afternoon.

Justin Patterson helps run the CarQuest auto supply store and repair shop in Unalaska. Before rough weather hit on Friday, he walked around the property tying down loose parts.

Patterson has only lived in Unalaska for three months. He says he also prepared to face the storm on a personal level.

“I figured it would be like some sort of life-altering experience,” says Patterson. “I mean, I was praying.”

Unalaska didn’t see hurricane-force winds Friday night. The top gusts were only about 35 miles per hour.

And while there weren’t any reports of damage, police sergeant Jennifer Shockley says there was a potential assault at Unalaska’s sports bar.

“When we have bad storms and people are trapped here in port for a while, we do sometimes get a lot of drunken activity that results in a lot of criminal charges,” Shockley says. “But it’s been relatively quiet.”

Several crab fishing vessels pulled into Unalaska to dodge rough seas. But they may not have reason to stay much longer.

“As this storm continues eastward, it will continue to weaken,” says Baines, the meteorologist. “The winds will pick back up again in Adak and even in Unalaska, but it will be very typical wintertime winds.”

Unalaska can expect to see winds around 30 miles per hour into next week. Those gusts may be slightly higher in Adak.

By Wednesday, Baines says the storm will likely dissipate. But it will have an impact in the Lower 48 for another week or so.

That’s because the low pressure system created a ridge in the weather scale pattern, which will send cold air spilling out of Canada into the contiguous United States. Temperatures will be below average for there the next week, Baines says, and warmer than usual in Alaska.

Saturday afternoon in Unalaska November 8, 2014
Saturday afternoon in Unalaska
November 8, 2014