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Monster Storm Takes Aim For Alaska

A massive storm brews off the west coast of Alaska.
A massive storm brews off the west coast of Alaska.

The National Weather Service is predicting a "historic" storm for the west coast of Alaska. Here's how meteorologists described it to the Alaska Dispatch:

"This is going to be one of the worst storms on record over the Bering Sea," said Bob Fischer, lead forecaster with the National Weather Service in Alaska. "Essentially the entire west coast of Alaska is going to see blizzard and winter conditions — heavy snow, poor visibility, high winds."

The affected communities stretch south to north along the Bering Sea, from Hooper Bay north to Point Hope, with the village of Kivalina likely to absorb the worst of the storm, including hurricane force winds and wave surges.

In its advisory, the National Weather Service's Fairbanks office left no doubt about the storm's power. "This is an extremely dangerous and life threatening storm," the advisory read.

The Washington Post'sweather blog, Capital Weather Gang, reports that the storm's central pressure will be comparable to the pressure usually associated with a major hurricane. They report:

A direct hit is forecast for Nome, Alaska where 8-14" of snow is forecast as well as a storm surge as high as 8 feet early Wednesday evening local time at the coast. The NWS likens the storm to the November 11-12, 1974 storm which is the strongest in that city's 113 years of records.

"Major differences between the 1974 storm and this upcoming storm include the fact that tides were much greater in the 1974 storm," NWS said. "However, sea ice extent is currently much lower than it was in 1974, thus providing no protection along the coast and greater fetch."

The Daily News-Miner, the Fairbanks daily, reports authorities have not yet ordered evacuations but the local school, which sits at the town's highest level, could be used as a shelter.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.