Mark Thyssen and Jocelyn Gecker
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A powerful storm that moved north over the Bering Strait on Saturday caused widespread flooding in several communities along Alaska’s western coast, draining power and forcing residents to evacuate to higher ground.
The force of the water knocked several houses off their foundations and swept one of the gnomes down the river until it got caught in a bridge.
Powerful storms – those left over from Typhoon Merbok – are affecting weather patterns all the way to California, where high winds and rare late-summer storms were expected.
No injuries or fatalities were immediately reported in Alaska, said Jeremy Zidek, a spokesman for the Alaska Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency. It warned that worst-case flooding could occur and that storm surges could take up to 14 hours to recede.
Governor Mike Dunleavy issued a disaster declaration during the day.
Nearly 1,000 miles (1,609 kilometers) of fronts could be damaging roads and other infrastructure, Dunleavy said at a news conference Saturday night. Authorities will assess the impact on water and sewage systems, seawalls, fuel storage areas, airports and ports.
Representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency were already in Alaska before the storm, and Dunleavy said he would stay to help assess the damage.
“Our goal is to complete the assessment as soon as possible,” he said. “We will act as quickly as possible to provide relief, provide recovery, and provide the essentials that people need.”
One of the worst-hit communities was the village of Golovin, with some 170 inhabitants, most seeking shelter in a school or three hillside buildings. Winds in the village are over 60 miles (95 kilometers) per hour, pushing water levels 11 feet (3.3 meters) above the normal high tide line and expected to rise another 2 feet (60 centimeters) before peaking on Saturday. It was done.
“Most of the lower part of the community is flooded with all structures and buildings,” said Ed Plum, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Fairbanks.
Clarabelle Lewis, facility manager for the tribal government, the Chinik Eskimo Community, was among those who took refuge in the hills overlooking Golovin. She and others weathered the storm in the tribal office after securing supplies at home from high winds and helping neighbors do the same.
The wind was howling. It was noisy,” she said.
Wind gusts ranged from 41mph (66km/h) to 67mph (108km/h) over most of the region, but maximum wind speeds at Cape Romanzov were 91mph (146km/h), according to the Bureau of Meteorology. .
Luis has never experienced a storm like this in his 20 years of living in Golovin.
“We’ve had a few floods in the past, but nothing as bad as this one,” she said. “The house has never moved from its foundation.”
Flooding was also reported in Hooper Bay, St. Michael’s, Unalakreet and Shakturik, with waves crashing against the levee in front of the community, Plum said.
In Hooper Bay, more than 250 people took refuge inside a school, Bethel public radio station KYUK reported. The village is one of the largest along the coast, with nearly 1,400 inhabitants.
The school’s deputy principal, Brittany Taraba, said three houses had collapsed to their foundations and much of the village was flooded.
Residents support each other by donating recently caught and processed moose to feed those displaced in schools.
“It’s really great to see this community,” Taraba told KYUK.
Plum said the storm will pass through the Bering Strait on Saturday before heading to the Chukchi Sea.
“And just west of Point Hope, it’s going to kind of become a park and undermine,” he said of a community on Alaska’s northwest coast.
He said there will be storm surges near the northern Bering Sea by Saturday night before water levels begin to fall by Sunday. I was.
Northern California will see gusts of up to 40 miles per hour (64 kilometers per hour) from Saturday night through Sunday morning along the coast from Sonoma County to Santa Cruz and the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada.
Strong winds can blow off branches and drought-stressed trees, causing power outages, according to Weather Service meteorologist Ryan Walbran.
The storm, which started Sunday morning, is expected to bring up to 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) of rain to coastal areas of Sonoma County, and less as it moves south into the San Francisco area and the Santa Cruz Mountains. Walbran says it will be less.
“We had quite a bit of rain early in the season,” he said, adding that the storm is expected to last until at least Monday, making commutes wet on smooth roads.
In the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, northeast of the state capital Sacramento, firefighters are working to put out the state’s largest wildfire so far this year. Rain is needed, but as of Saturday morning he was down to 21% Mosquito Wind was a concern for his fire-fighting crew.
“Wind will definitely cause erratic fire behavior,” said Scott McLean, spokesman for the California Fire Department, adding that new hotspots could be set on fire despite the welcome humidity. “Rain won’t put out the fire, but it will help.”
Gecker reported from San Francisco.
https://www.mercurynews.com/2022/09/17/storm-battering-western-alaska-causes-widespread-flooding/ Storms Hit Western Alaska Cause Widespread Flooding – The Mercury News