Alaska braces for possible worst ever storm

Alaska braces for “epic” storm; evacuations begin

By Yereth Rosen | Reuters

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) – An “epic” storm was bearing down on western Alaska on Tuesday, the National Weather Service said, warning that it could be one of the worst on record for the state.

The storm, moving inland from the Aleutian Islands, was expected to bring hurricane-force winds with gusts up to 100 miles per hour, heavy snowfall, widespread coastal flooding and severe erosion to most of Alaska’s west coast, the National Weather Service said.

A passengers sleeps inside the Alaska Airlines check-in area in Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Achorage, Alaska
Photo By NATHANIEL WILDER/REUTERS

A passenger sleeps inside the Alaska Airlines check-in area in Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Achorage, Alaska, November 8, 2011. Passengers were left stranded as flights in Anchorage were cancelled to villages in northwest Alaska as an “epic” storm was bearing down on western Alaska on Tuesday, the National Weather Service said, warning that it could be one of the worst on record for the state.

“This will be an extremely dangerous and life threatening storm of an epic magnitude rarely experienced,” the service said in a special warning message.

Nome and the rest of the Seward Peninsula, a section of land that juts out toward Siberia, were expected to be the hardest-hit areas, said Andy Brown, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service in Anchorage.

Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport

Image via Wikipedia

“It’s going very far north,” he said.

Officials in Nome issued an evacuation order late on Tuesday for people living along Front Street, a beachside avenue that serves as the finish line for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, and for other low-lying areas in town.

At least three other communities were housing residents in local shelters as of Tuesday afternoon, said Bryan Fisher, chief of operations for the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

But long-distance evacuations from the remote region were not considered feasible, Fisher told a media briefing in Anchorage.

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“Air traffic will not be flying in the weather that we’re expecting in the
next 24 to 48 hours,” he said.

Posing an additional threat is the lack of sea ice off northwestern Alaska,
forecasters said.

The last time a storm of a similar magnitude was sent in the same northward direction was 1974, but the sea surface was much more frozen then, Brown said.

“History tells that the sea ice helps subdue the storm surge,” Brown said. “With no sea ice there, we could see the full brunt of that 6- to 9-foot storm surge.”

Arctic sea ice this year reached the second-lowest coverage since satellite records began in 1979, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.

Alaska Division of Homeland Security & Emergen...

“Forty years ago, a big storm like this would come through and the sea ice would act as sort of a buffer,” said Mark Serreze, director of the Snow and Ice Data Center.

“The Bering Sea has and always will have these strong storms. What is
different now is their potential destructiveness as you lose the sea ice cover,” he added.

Federal, state and local agencies were making emergency preparations in advance of the storm. The state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management set up an incident command, with numerous agencies coordinating responses.

The U.S. Coast Guard said it has staged helicopters in the region and sent a cutter to prepare for emergency responses, with a special focus on the crab-fishing fleet.

Numerous government agencies have set up an incident command, said Jeremy Zidek, a spokesman for the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Nome, with 3,600 residents, is one of the largest cities in western Alaska. The communities spread along the coastline are mostly traditional Native settlements, with a few hundred to a few thousand inhabitants, and no roads linking communities.

Although the region is sparsely populated, the storm presents significant dangers, Alaska Senator Mark Begich said in a written statement.

“I realize we are in a remote part of the country, but many people and communities are in harm’s way,” Begich said.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Cynthia Johnston)

I Want My MaMa- After I Eat My Fruit & Veggies

Bear cub in an Alaska grocery store

Where we live on top of a mountain we encounter bears from time to time. On our back deck, backyard and driveway. Usually it’s a sow and 2 cubs although this year we have a mom with 3 cubs. This time of year they are filling their tummys trying to put on fat for winter and hibernation.

Cover of "Bear Cub (All Aboard Science Re...
Cover of Bear Cub (All Aboard Science Reader)

We enjoy their visits despite wreaking havoc on our bird feeders, knocking out spindles from the deck railings and stealing storage containers. Twice I have had to go into the woods and retrieve a storage box that contained some cans of paint. On the second retrieval there was evidence that a bear had bit through a can and scattered redwood latex paint all over the ground and bush brush. If you see a redwood colored bear he lives here on our land. -Bloggo

On This Date: October 18th

Oct 18, 1867:

U.S. takes possession of Alaska

On this day in 1867, the U.S. formally takes possession of Alaska after purchasing the territory from Russia for $7.2 million, or less than two cents an acre. The Alaska purchase comprised 586,412 square miles, about twice the size of Texas, and was championed by William Henry Seward, the enthusiasticly expansionist secretary of state under President Andrew Johnson.

A political cartoon of Andrew Johnson and Abra...
Image via Wikipedia

Russia wanted to sell its Alaska territory, which was remote, sparsely populated and difficult to defend, to the U.S. rather than risk losing it in battle with a rival such as Great Britain. Negotiations between Seward (1801-1872) and the Russian minister to the U.S., Eduard de Stoeckl, began in March 1867. However, the American public believed the land to be barren and worthless and dubbed the purchase “Seward’s Folly” and “Andrew Johnson’s Polar Bear Garden,” among other derogatory names. Some animosity toward the project may have been a byproduct of President Johnson’s own unpopularity. As the 17th U.S. president, Johnson battled with Radical Republicans in Congress over Reconstruction policies following the Civil War. He was impeached in 1868 and later acquitted by a single vote. Nevertheless, Congress eventually ratified the Alaska deal. Public opinion of the purchase turned more favorable when gold was discovered in a tributary of Alaska’s Klondike River in 1896, sparking a gold rush. Alaska became the 49th state on January 3, 1959, and is now recognized for its vast natural resources. Today, 25 percent of America’s oil and over 50 percent of its seafood come from Alaska. It is also the largest state in area, about one-fifth the size of the lower 48 states combined, though it remains sparsely populated. The name Alaska is derived from the Aleut word alyeska, which means “great land.” Alaska has two official state holidays to commemorate its origins: Seward’s Day, observed the last Monday in March, celebrates the March 30, 1867, signing of the land treaty between the U.S. and Russia, and Alaska Day, observed every October 18, marks the anniversary of the formal land transfer.

This Week in History, Oct 18 – Oct 24

Oct 18, 1867
U.S. takes possession of Alaska
Oct 19, 1781
Victory at Yorktown
Oct 20, 1947
Congress investigates Reds in Hollywood
Oct 21, 1959
Guggenheim Museum opens in New York City
Oct 22, 1962
Cuban Missile Crisis
Oct 23, 2002
Hostage crisis in Moscow theater
Oct 24, 1901
First barrel ride down Niagara Falls
From HISTORY.COM