Western Alaska Prepares for Potentially Massive Storm

The storm heading toward the west coast of Alaska is starting to move in. Officials with the national weather service say the forecasts call for up to 14 inches of snow, sustained winds of 50 miles per hour, gusts to 75 and 8-9 feet of storm surge in Nome. And as winds move in and snow begins to fall, Nome and area communities are bracing for the storm. Nome’s incident command center opened at noon today.

Any notice to evacuate would come from the incident commander and be announced on KNOM’s airwaves. The Nome Rec center is preparing to serve as the primary shelter for displaced families, should it be needed.

The peak water levels are expected sometime tomorrow (Wednesday).

Several Norton Sound communities are closing down school early and opening the school for an emergency shelter. Diomede is expecting hurricane force winds and with waves at high tide of 26 to 28 feet. Due to construction at the Diomede school, the emergency shelter has been moved to the city office.

In Wales, the school is open to anyone who needs shelter. It’s recommended you bring your bedroll and food supplies. On St Lawrence island, in Savoonga, the city and AVEC are asking people to unplug microwaves, refrigerators, and other appliances during the storm to reduce the risk of overloading the system.

In Kotzebue, after school activities have been canceled for this evening and all schools in the Northwest Arctic Borough will be closed tomorrow.

Alaska News Nightly will have updates on the latest storm conditions for Alaska’s western coastal communities.


Ben Matheson is a contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network.

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