Hmm – The Storm Coming is of “Epic Magnitude” – That’s a Bit Disconcerting

So the storm is coming.  We’re used to storms here, but this one has the town a bit spooked.  The NOAA website has this posted:

AGAIN…THIS WILL BE EXTREMELY DANGEROUS AND LIFE THREATENING
STORM OF AN EPIC MAGNITUDE RARELY EXPERIENCED. ALL PEOPLE
IN THE AREA SHOULD TAKE PRECAUTIONS TO SAFEGUARD THEIR LIVES
AND PROPERTY.

Humm…What does one DO when reading that without overreacting.

Kids are being released from school beginning at 10:30 this morning.  The city has not suggested evacuations so I am assuming that we should prepare to be holed up for a week without electricity or heat.  I am not assuming that our house a few blocks back from the ocean and tucked behind other structures will be destroyed, but it is a little scary after seeing news footage of other major storms across the country.

The very real and imminent danger is to the villages that lie along the coast.  I’ve lived in a couple of the communities where I know right at this moment people are packing up their belongings, drawing water from the tanks, and moving Elders to higher locations.  Emergency teams have met and there are siren calls to announce different messages such as “Everybody Help Pull Up Boats”  or “Go To Higher Ground”.

In the village of Little Diomede, the community lives Right ON the edge of the water.  Higher ground means climbing up massive rocks to the top of the island.  Fun in the summer, but hard in the winter and extremely hard in a storm.  When I lived there I loved a good blizzard and trying to move my body forward to walk 50 feet outside.  But that was just a “blizzard” and I was on an already clear path.  This is a storm of epic proportions and I feel anxiety for the families as they prepare to possibly move to higher ground and help Elders and families get to higher ground in nasty cold temperatures and high winds where there are no roads or sidewalks or cars – just old rocks and crevices filled with snow and ice to climb over.

Of course, Diomeders are a tough group of people and they have weathered a great many storms, but each one brings with it challenges.  I only hope that this one does not.  And that the other villages along the coast are spared the wrath of high seas and flooding and able to stay safe and warm over the next few days.

Read below for the full NOAA report:

SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FAIRBANKS AK
932 AM AKST TUE NOV 8 2011

AKZ207>214-082045-
CHUKCHI SEA COAST-LOWER KOBUK AND NOATAK VALLEYS-
BALDWIN PENINSULA AND SELAWIK VALLEY-
NORTHERN AND INTERIOR SEWARD PENINSULA-
SOUTHERN SEWARD PENINSULA COAST-
EASTERN NORTON SOUND AND NULATO HILLS-
ST LAWRENCE ISLAND AND BERING STRAIT COAST-YUKON DELTA-
INCLUDING...POINT HOPE...SHISHMAREF...KIVALINA...ESPENBERG...
NOATAK...KIANA...RED DOG MINE...KOTZEBUE...SELAWIK...NOORVIK...
BUCKLAND...DEERING...CANDLE...COUNCIL...HAYCOCK...
PILGRIM SPRINGS...SERPENTINE HOT SPRINGS...TAYLOR...NOME...
WHITE MOUNTAIN...GOLOVIN...UNALAKLEET...STEBBINS...ST MICHAEL...
ELIM...KOYUK...SHAKTOOLIK...GAMBELL...SAVOONGA...BREVIG MISSION...
TELLER...WALES...DIOMEDE...MOUNTAIN VILLAGE...EMMONAK...
ALAKANUK...KOTLIK...PILOT STATION...ST MARYS...SCAMMON BAY...
MARSHALL...NUNAM IQUA...PITKAS POINT
932 AM AKST TUE NOV 8 2011

...ALASKA WEST COAST TO BE HIT BY ONE OF THE MOST SEVERE BERING
SEA STORMS ON RECORD...

A POWERFUL AND EXTREMELY DANGEROUS STORM OF NEAR RECORD OR
RECORD MAGNITUDE IS BEARING DOWN ON THE WEST COAST OF ALASKA.
AT 9 AM THIS MORNING THE STORM CENTER WAS LOCATED ABOUT 600
MILES SOUTHWEST OF ST LAWRENCE ISLAND. THE STORM IS FORECAST
TO MOVE RAPIDLY NORTHEAST TODAY AND TONIGHT WITH THE CENTER
MOVING ACROSS THE CHUKOTSK PENINSULA TONIGHT. ON WEDNESDAY
THE STORM WILL TAKE A NORTHWESTWARD TRACK INTO THE CHUKCHI SEA.

THE STORM WILL BRING EXTREMELY STRONG WINDS TO ALL OF THE
ALASKA WEST COAST BEGINNING THIS AFTERNOON OVER ST LAWRENCE
ISLAND AND BEGINNING THIS EVENING OVER THE REMAINDER OF
THE WEST COAST...ACCOMPANIED BY WIDESPREAD MAJOR COASTAL
FLOODING AND SEVERE BEACH EROSION OVER MANY PARTS OF THE
COASTLINE. THE WIND WILL PUSH LARGE AMOUNTS OF WATER INTO NORTON
SOUND...RAISING SEA LEVELS TO 7 TO 9 FEET ABOVE NORMAL IN NORTON
SOUND AND ALONG THE BERING STRAIT COAST. THE EXTREMELY STRONG
WINDS WILL PRODUCE HIGH WAVES WHICH WILL PUSH THE HIGH WATER
FARTHER INLAND.

OVER THE BERING STRAIT COAST AND ST LAWRENCE ISLAND...
SUSTAINED WINDS ARE EXPECTED TO REACH 75 MPH WITH MAXIMUM
GUSTS OF 90 TO 100 MPH. ALONG THE CHUKCHI COAST...WIND
SPEEDS OF 65 TO 70 MPH WITH GUSTS AS HIGH AS 90 MPH ARE
EXPECTED. IN THE NOME AREA...SUSTAINED WINDS AS HIGH AS
60 MPH ARE EXPECTED...WITH GUSTS TO 70 MPH. ALMOST ALL OTHER
AREAS OF THE WEST COAST WILL EXPERIENCE MAXIMUM WIND SPEEDS
OF AT LEAST 50 TO 60 MPH.

WIDESPREAD MAJOR COASTAL FLOODING AND SEVERE BEACH
EROSION IS EXPECTED IN THE FOLLOWING AREAS:

1. THE BERING SEA COAST FROM CAPE ROMANZOF TO POINT
   ROMANOF...ESPECIALLY THE WEST FACING SHORES.
2. ALL AREAS ALONG THE EASTERN AND NORTHERN SHORE OF NORTON
   SOUND WESTWARD TO AND INCLUDING THE BERING STRAIT COAST
   AND LITTLE DIOMEDE ISLAND.
3. SOUTH AND WEST FACING COASTLINE OF ST LAWRENCE ISLAND.
4. THE CHUKCHI SEA COAST FROM CAPE KRUSENSTERN TO POINT HOPE.

THIS INCLUDES THE VILLAGES OF NOME AND KIVALINA WHERE
MAJOR DAMAGE FROM COASTAL FLOODING AND STRONG WINDS
IS EXPECTED. THE VILLAGE OF SAVOONGA ON THE NORTH SHORE
OF ST LAWRENCE ISLAND WILL BE PROTECTED FROM COASTAL
FLOODING BUT WILL EXPERIENCE EXTREMELY STRONG AND
DAMAGING WINDS.

ADDITIONALLY...HIGH SEA LEVELS IN NORTON SOUND WILL CAUSE
COASTAL FLOODING IN LOW LYING AREAS ALONG THE SOUTHERN SHORE.

THE STORM WILL PRODUCE BLIZZARD OR NEAR BLIZZARD CONDITIONS
OVER MOST AREAS OF THE WESTERN ALASKA MAINLAND...WITH VISIBILITY
REDUCED TO NEAR ZERO IN SNOW AND BLOWING SNOW. PEOPLE ARE URGED
TO SEEK SHELTER NOW AND POSTPONE TRAVEL INTO THE BACK COUNTRY
UNTIL THE STORM ABATES.

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