Alaska Braces for Unprecedented Storms, Potential to Bring Severe Flooding

by Shelby Scott

Extreme weather has been affecting various regions of the United States for weeks. Wildfires have scorched acres of land across California, Oregon, Montana, as well as other states. Flooding has affected states nationwide, from Rhode Island to Alabama to even one of the driest places on Earth: Death Valley, California. Now, though, extreme weather is heading much farther north, with forecasters predicting the worst storm in a decade to hit Alaska’s west coast this weekend.

Per a segment from TODAY, the approaching storm could slam Alaska’s coast with hurricane-force winds, bringing waves reaching 50 feet in height. The storm could also see many regions along the coast accumulating up to five inches of rain, resulting in serious flooding for many Alaskans. More than anything though, experts state the flooding could have the worst impact, potentially the most extreme Alaskans have seen in 50 years.

According to The Guardian, the massive storm about to plow into Alaska’s coast is the remnants of Typhoon Merbok, which is currently swirling over the Bering Sea. Residents along the coast can expect to see the storm begin as early as Friday night and endure throughout the weekend. Meteorologists expect that it could take as long as 10 to 14 hours for flood waters to recede in some areas.

Aside from devastating flooding, the outlet also reports that the impending storm will seriously accelerate coastal erosion which already threatens nearby villages and Indigenous communities.

Alaska Residents Urged to ‘Ready’ Themselves Before Storm Strikes

With winds as high as 100 miles per hour possible, officials have begun urging residents to ready themselves and their homes for the worst. Forecasters are stating that winds accompanying the storm could almost certainly rip trees up by the roots, crack large branches, and demolish poorly built homes and structures. Forecasters have already predicted widespread power outages as the hands of the storm.

Nevertheless, John Handeland, mayor of Nome, Alaska, said he and locals know what to expect.

“We do know the drill and where things normally are impacted,” he said. Jeremy Zidek, spokesperson for Alaska’s emergency management office, noted that he and representatives from his office have already connected with community leaders, urging all residents to prepare for the storm as best as they can.

“We have seen storms like this, like in 2011, that did serious damage across the western coast of Alaska and we’ve seen similar storms that have not done a lot of damage,” Zidek said. Zidek specifically recalled the 2011 Bering Sea Superstorm, which easily peeled rooftops off of buildings, toppled tankers, and completely sunk boats.

Despite Zidek’s confidence, however, the typhoon approaches at a critical time. As of now, weather conditions have not enabled Alaska to develop a strong ice cover, a natural barrier that helps lessen the impact of storms as serious as these.