Devastating floods from Storm Merbok soak coastal Alaska



Coastal Alaska is recovering on Monday (Sept. 19) after a weekend of dramatic flooding attributable to the remnants of Storm Merbok. 

The storm introduced flooding to coastal communities, impacting 1,000 miles (1,609 kilometers) of shoreline, Alaska governor Mike Dunleavy stated at a information convention on Sunday (Sept. 18), and a whole bunch of individuals huddled in short-term shelters on Saturday (Sept. 17), in keeping with Alaska Public Media (opens in new tab). Roads have been washed out and houses have been broken by winds gusting close to 70 mph (114 km/hour), CBS News reported (opens in new tab). In Nome, no less than one dwelling was torn from its foundations and seen floating down a river. 

Water ranges remained excessive in lots of areas on Monday, with storm surge anticipated to recede all through Monday and Tuesday (Sept. 20) morning, the National Weather Service Fairbanks tweeted (opens in new tab).

“Merbok was a uncommon and historic storm for the Bering Sea and Western Alaska,” NWS meteorologist Virginia Rux told Alaska Public Media (opens in new tab) on Sunday. “Lots of the coastal communities are nonetheless recovering, and we aren’t anticipating any storm like what we simply skilled anytime quickly.”

The hurricane originated on Sept. 11 within the central Pacific, east of the Northern Mariana Islands,, in keeping with Accuweather (opens in new tab). It misplaced energy by the point it neared the Alaska coast, however nonetheless produced winds sturdy sufficient to whip up a mix of waves (attributable to native winds) and swells (attributable to the cumulative results of the extra distant storm winds) as much as 50 ft (15.2 meters) tall. 

Learn extra: Hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones

Winds from the storm have now peaked and are concentrated west of Level Hope, Alaska, the place they are going to stay for the following few days, in keeping with the NWS. Meteorologists will not be anticipating any extra impacts from what’s left of the storm. 

However coastal Alaska is now taking inventory of the harm. A well-liked restaurant on Nome’s Entrance Avenue burned down on Saturday night in a conflagration fueled by excessive winds, in keeping with the Anchorage Daily News (opens in new tab). The Nome Nugget (opens in new tab) reported failing seawalls, dislodged gasoline tanks, submerged roads, and houses knocked from their foundations, together with one which lodged beneath the Snake River Bridge after floating downstream.

On Sept. 17, Melissa Frey, a meteorologist with KTUU/KYES Anchorage, shared photos on Twitter (opens in new tab) that confirmed extreme flooding in Newtok, St. George and Hooper Bay, with properties partially submerged and wreckage littering the shoreline.

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The storm was harking back to the 2011 Bering Sea Superstorm, which struck in November and introduced wind gusts of as much as 93 mph (150 km/h) to the area, in keeping with the NWS Fairbanks (opens in new tab). Gov. Dunleavy declared a state of emergency on Saturday and stated he was involved with the federal authorities for aid. Time is of the essence, he said in a news conference (opens in new tab) on Saturday, , as a result of some communities will expertise their first freezing temperatures of the 12 months in only a few weeks. 

“We simply need to impress upon our federal mates that it’s not a Florida scenario the place we’ve received months to work on this,” the governor stated. “We’ve received a number of weeks to work on this.”

Initially printed on Stay Science.

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