Alaska’s next big storm forecast to hit farther north, as some communities still recover from September flooding

A forecast map shows the storm expected to hit Alaska on Wednesday. (National Weather Service)

A storm is forecast to hit Alaska’s northwest coast with high winds and coastal flooding, starting Wednesday night and continuing into Friday.

That’s as many Western Alaska communities are still trying to recover from last month’s major storm, the remnants of Typhoon Merbok, which impacted nearly 1,000 miles of coastline.

While the current storm’s track appears to be farther north, National Weather Service meteorologist Ryan Metzger said the communities impacted by the previous storm are now more vulnerable than they were a month ago.

“You know, the worst impacts with this storm will be north of the Bering Strait,” Metzger said. “But areas south of the Bering Strait that were impacted by the previous storm, they have more susceptibility to smaller events, so that’s why we’re kind of keeping an eye out for those areas.”

The most serious impacts are expected from Shishmaref to Kotzebue and up the coast to Utqiagvik.

The Weather Service has issued warnings for high winds, flooding or both for those areas, as well as the community of Gambell on St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea.

Wind gusts are expected as high as 70 mph in some locations by Thursday.

To the south, in places like Nome, Unalakleet and down to Hooper Bay, there are less serious weather advisories in effect.

State officials say assessment resources and local contractors are already on hand in communities that might be affected by the coming storm.

The Alaska National Guard’s adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Torrence Saxe, said guardsmen and helicopters are pre-positioned at armories in Nome, Kotzebue and Utqiagvik.

“This could be a different storm, as we’ve heard, so we’re getting people ready now,” Saxe said. “What we call the ‘warning order’ has already gone out to my forces, and we will be ready to go.”

Gov. Mike Dunleavy urged residents in the region to prepare. He emphasized the importance of protecting human life, after no deaths or serious injuries were reported from last month’s storm.

Most locations within the National Weather Service’s warning zone are expected to see the high wind tapering off by Friday.

Alaska Public Media’s Chris Klint contributed reporting to this story.

Alaska Public Media

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