Historic Alaska storm weakens; flooding, erosion dangers increase

Nov 10, 2011
Originally published on November 10, 2011 11:05 am

The powerful storm thrashing Alaska is losing strength as it moves inland from the northwestern part of the state. The National Weather Service warns coastal flooding is now the main concern, although hurricane strength winds are dying down.

The Anchorage Daily News says there are no reports of injuries or large damage in Nome, one of several Alaskan communities buried under the blizzard. Communities have lost power and roads are flooded. Many people are waiting in shelters for the worst to pass.

As Eyder wrote, the Bering Sea storm is so big and powerful it's been compared to a hurricane, and Alaska hasn't seen a weather system this menacing since 1974. HLN meteorologist Bob Van Dillen observes this storm's air pressure dropped to levels found in a category three hurricane. The storm surge reportedly reached 10 feet and winds were clocked at nearly 100 miles per hour.

That could mean trouble for coastal villages which fear beach erosion. KTUU-TV is tracking conditions in hamlets north of Nome, such as Kivalina and Shishmaref, and a community to Nome's southeast, Shatoolik, which lies on the Iditarod Trail. So far, barrier walls and slushy ice have forestalled major damage to the villages, but the storm's not finished yet.

The National Weather Service's FB page warns "ice in Norton Bay (east of Nome) could shove inland and cause severe damage". HT to the Washington Post's Jason Samenow, who's calling it "Snowicane", for the hurricane/snowstorm double whammy.

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