Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bering Sea "Super Storm" to Pound West Coast of Alaska....

An intense storm system in the Bering Sea, dubbed the "Super Storm", is taking aim on Alaska and promises to deliver powerful storm surge, damaging winds and heavy snow to the western coast during the next 24 hours.  The center of the storm is noted by the yellow arrow on the latest infrared satellite image above.

The central pressure of this system is deepening rapidly, and is forecast to reach into the 940 millibar range tonight.  To put this into perspective, Hurricane Hugo, which impacted South Carolina in 1989 had a minimum central pressure of 934 millibars (and winds of 140 mph).

Sustained winds of 80 mph with gusts around 100 mph are forecast along the coastal areas at the height of the storm later tonight and into Wednesday.

A data buoy in the Bering Sea, at 57.1 North / 177.8 West recently recorded a maximum wave height of 40 feet, as noted in the observation below:

Waves won't be quite that high when they impact the western coast of Alaska, but will be impressive none-the-less. The graphs below show the forecast (black x's) wave heights of 9-17 feet in just a sampling of the coastal areas (scale in feet on the left hand side of each graph):

Extensive coastal flooding and beach erosion can be expected as a result of the high wave action and strong winds.  

The latest radar from the Nome, Alaska site shows a solid wall of precipitation advancing toward the region from the Southwest:

Locally heavy snows of 12-16 inches or more are forecast for much of the region in association with this storm, and the extreme winds will create white-out and blizzard conditions in many areas.

This storm has all of the markings of a truly a historic event.  The City of Nome is comparing the likely events to the current storm of record from November 1974, the strongest in over 100 years of record keeping.

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