Heck of a storm up north yesterday and today....

The most powerful storm to affect the Bering Sea coast of Alaska since 1974 is slowly winding down today, after pounding Alaska's west coast and Eastern Siberia with hurricane-force winds, a destructive storm surge more than 8 feet high, waves up to 40 feet high, and heavy snow. The highest wind gust recorded during the storm, 89 mph, was at Wales at the western tip of the Seward Peninsula, which forms the U.S. side of the Bering Strait. Hurricane force gusts were observed at seven locations in Alaska:

Cape Lisburne... 81 mph at 7 am Wed
Gambell... ... ... 74 mph at 6 pm Tue
Kotzebue... ... ..74 mph at 6 am Wed
Point Hope... ... 78 mph at 5 am Wed
Savoonga... ... ..76 mph at 7 pm Tue
Tin City... ... ..85 mph at 12 am Wed
Wales... ... ... ..89 mph at 1:42 am Wed

A storm surge of 8.6 feet hit Nome, Alaska near 9 pm EST last night, pushed inland by sustained winds that reached 45 mph, gusting to 61 mph. Large waves on top of the surge encrusted with sea ice battered the coast, causing extensive damage and coastal flooding. Significant wave heights at the Bering Sea buoy north of the Aleutian Islands reached 40 feet during the peak of the storm. The last time Nome, Alaska saw a storm this strong was November 11 - 12 1974, when the city experienced sustained winds of 46 mph with gusts to 69 mph, a pressure that bottomed out at 969 mb, and a storm surge of 13 feet. The center of yesterday's storm moved ashore over eastern Siberia near 12 UTC with a central pressure of 945 mb. The storm's central pressure had risen to 958 mb this morning, with the center of the storm now located north of Siberia over the Arctic.


Figure 1. Observed storm surge at Nome, Alaska (green line). MLLW = Mean Lower Low Water, the water level at the lowest tide of the month. The top storm surge of 8.6 feet occurred near 02 GMT this morning (9 pm EST November 9, 2011.) Image credit: NOAA Tides and Currents.

Jeff Masters