Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy declared a state of disaster Saturday as a powerful storm threatens huge swaths of the state’s vast and sparsely populated western coastline.
Towns are facing strong winds and flooding, and bracing for possible power outages caused by a storm forecasters are calling one of the worst in the state’s recent history.
The storm systems continued to “produce a potentially historic and long-duration storm surge, and damaging high winds across southwestern and western Alaska,” the National Weather Service said Saturday.
More than 100 people were sheltering at a school in Hooper Bay as floodwaters rose Saturday afternoon, AK Public Media News reported. The tide level in Nome reached more than 10 feet Saturday afternoon, Weather Service gages show.
The remnants of Typhoon Merbok are expected to bring moderate to heavy rainfall to the region until Sunday morning. On Saturday morning, a “very angry sea” brought storm surge into the community of Port of Nome, the Weather Service station in Fairbanks, Alaska tweeted. Wind gusts could reach hurricane strength in some areas, Weather Service forecasts say.
Significant coastal flooding is expected until Sunday morning, with the highest water levels Saturday afternoon, the Weather Service said.
On Saturday, photos showed roads in Golovin, Alaska, were covered with floodwater and the tide reached homes, causing a couple of homes to float off their foundations, the Weather Service station in Fairbanks, Alaska said. Other photos show multiple feet of water engulfing parts of fencing, stairs and a swing set.
Golovin, Alaska is a small town about 70 miles east of Nome.