Alaska Governor Declares State of Disaster After State Battered by Historic Storm

by Chris Haney

On Saturday, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy declared a state of disaster following historically powerful storms that have battered the western coastline of the state. The storms are threatening Alaska’s vast but scarcely populated coastlines as towns face strong winds and flooding. Forecasters are warning locals of possible power outages and are predicting one of the worst storms in the history of the state.

Yesterday, the National Weather Service shared that the storms continue to “produce a potentially historic and long-duration storm surge, and damaging high winds across southwestern and western Alaska.”

As of Saturday afternoon, more than 100 people took shelter from floodwaters at a school in Hooper Bay. In another coastal town, Nome, tide levels reached over 10 feet yesterday.

Officials have warned that the remnants of Typhoon Merbok will continue to cause heavy rainfall through Sunday morning. Additionally, the Weather Service forecasts say that wind gusts may reach hurricane strength in some areas. Officials warned of severe coastal flooding until Sunday morning. However, the highest water levels were expected to pass on Saturday afternoon.

Photos taken in Golovin, Alaska showed flooded roads and tides reaching homes in the area. The flooding is so bad that multiple houses are now floating off of their foundation, the Weather Service in Fairbanks said. Golovin is a small town with less than 150 residents, which is around 70 miles east of Nome.

Further photos taken in the area show several feet of water covering parts of stairs, fencing, and a swing set. Other pictures show flooded automobiles and an entire building under a bridge after it came loose from its foundation.

NWS Fairbanks posted photos of the damage in Golovin on their Twitter account Saturday afternoon. No injuries have been reported so far.

Alaska Storm One of the ‘Strongest’ to Ever Hit the State

According to AccuWeather, officials are calling for 50 to 75 mph winds that could knock over trees, damage roofs and building structures, and cause substantial power outages. AccuWeather also warned fisherman that the Alaska storm is creating “life-threatening conditions.” They suggested that all small boats remain in port.

In 2011, Alaska dealt with the Bering Sea Superstorm, one of the most powerful cyclones to impact the state on record. Officials are predicting that the current Alaska storm could exceed the superstorm’s impact from 11 years ago. Further, they’re saying that certain coastal areas in Alaska may experience the worst flooding of the last 50 years.

AccuWeather is calling it “one of the strongest storms to ever hit the state of Alaska.” Thankfully, forecasters are expecting the Alaska storm to calm down later on Sunday as it shifts across the Arctic Circle. AccuWeather also stated that most of the storm’s effects will impact northern and western Alaska. Yet other areas in the state, including Anchorage and Fairbanks, will see rain on Sunday night going into Monday.