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Former Typhoon Merbok blasts western Alaska with historic storm surge, 90 mph wind and 50-foot seas

Former Typhoon Merbok blasts western Alaska with historic storm surge, 90 mph wind and 50-foot seas.

Former Typhoon Merbok blasts western Alaska with historic storm surge, 90 mph wind and 50-foot seas

Typhoon Merbok changed into a strong northern Pacific storm as it sped over the Aleutian Islands on Friday and the Bering Sea on Saturday. This storm surge brought perilous conditions, submerging coastal towns and villages under several feet of water for hours.

According to the National Weather Service, Unalakleet's water levels were above 11 feet on Saturday morning and were on track to achieve one of their highest peaks ever later that day when they peaked at 15 feet.

Golovin had significant floods after being hit by wind and rain simultaneously.

The school is surrounded by water, while nearby residences and other buildings have been inundated. The National Weather Service in Fairbanks reported that "several gasoline tanks are turned over" and that "a couple of residences were floating off the foundation."

The peak flood levels weren't supposed to occur until Saturday afternoon. Winds in the area have gusted as high as 62 mph.

Shaktoolik was being inundated by water from the Bering Sea as it broke through berms and entered the coastal settlement. To the town's clinic and school, residents have fled.

A peak surge of 12.45 feet, or 9 feet over high tide, is expected in Nome later on Saturday, with seas in Red Dog rising to a height of 5 feet above high tide.

Strong winds blowing around the deep storm core, which had dropped as low as 937 millibars when it approached the Aleutian Islands, propelled the storm surge.

A gust of 91 mph was recorded in Cape Romanzof, 74 mph on St. Paul Island, and 62 mph at Adak and Golovin.

The storm caused monster seas to break over 50 feet offshore. Wave heights of approximately 52 feet were measured at a buoy 310 miles north of Adak late on Friday morning amid gusts of 74 mph wind.

Britta Merwin, a meteorologist with FOX Weather, said, "Even though it is not technically a typhoon, which is what we might label a hurricane in the (U.S.)... it still has all of that strong force." "When the winds are high, you're pushed in a lot of water, and that means the sea levels (are) going to rise and coastal flooding is a concern as well as storm surge."

What's worse is that high water levels will persist for another 10 to 14 hours as the storm slows on its departure into the Arctic, allowing wind-driven waves on top of the surge to push deep inland and cause extra damage.

Early on Friday morning, National Weather Service forecasters in Fairbanks wrote: "Impacts may surpass the 2011 Bering Sea Superstorm, and certain sites may see their worst coastal flooding in almost 50 years."

The storm is enormous, Merwin declared. It is still retaining all the traits that made it a typhoon, but it is now a cold-core system, a non-tropical storm that will lash Alaska with extremely powerful winds.

Adak, Unalaska, St. Paul, St. Johns, and Bethel will all be close to the storm's core, where the worst winds and rainfall will occur.

"When a storm is approaching, the majority of those Alaskan towns lack the means to evacuate. Therefore, people often travel to a community shelter, which is a safe alternative "Jeremy Zidek, a public relations representative for the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management in Alaska, noted this. People need to be very tough to even live in those places because supply chain problems, transportation problems, and weather problems are quite common occurrences.

The NWS has issued a number of advisories, including a Coastal Flood Watch, Storm Warning, and Gale Warning.


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