In what some climatologists are describing as a “100 year storm,” a massive system is causing flooding and widespread damage along the Alaskan coast.
The unusual storm had western Alaska bracing Tuesday. Tiny coastal communities were at particular risk for damage from wind and expected flooding. Winds reached at least 80 mph late Tuesday, said Neil Murakami, a National Weather Service forecaster in Anchorage. The storm surge could produce a 7-foot rise in sea levels, which would cause heavy flooding, meteorologist Stephen Kearney in Fairbanks said. State emergency management officials said some residents in the storm’s path headed for emergency shelters Tuesday.
Experts say damage will be worse because coastal areas have not yet developed their usual barriers of winter ice. Offshore monitors are recording wave heights of up to 40 feet.