Alaskans weather epic Bering Sea storm

Kyle Hopkins,Casey Grove,Mike Dunham
Location: Nome, Ak, 11/09/11 Dry Creek flooded from the incoming tidal surge
Photo courtesy of David Okitkon / ADN reader submission
Location: Nome, Ak, 11/09/11 Dry Creek flooding from incoming tidal surge
Photo courtesy of David Okitkon / ADN reader submission
Location: Golovin, 11/09/11
Photo courtesy of Julie Olson / ADN reader submission
Location: Tunnuak Ak, Nov 12 2011 Tununak waves west wind at 30 gusting at 60 knots
Photo courtesy of Mr Usugan / ADN reader submission
Location: Quinhagak, Ak, 11/12/2011 After Midnite Coastal flood.
Photo courtesy of Joe / ADN reader submission
Location: Tununak Ak, Nov 12 ,2011 big waves , west wind at 30 gusting at 50 to 60 knots
Photo courtesy of Mr Usugan / ADN reader submission
Location: Tununak Ak, Nov 12 ,2011 big waves , west wind at 30 gusting at 50 to 60 knots
Photo courtesy of Mr Usugan / ADN reader submission
Location: Tununak Ak, Nov 12 ,2011 west wind gusting at 45 to 60 knots
Photo courtesy of Mr Usugan / ADN reader submission
Location: Togiak Alaska, 10am, November 12, 2011 Hurricane force winds in Togiak the night of the 11th of November, 2011.
Photo courtesy of Melson Forbes / ADN reader submission
Location: Togiak Alaska, 10am, November 12, 2011 a neighbor's building rolled into another little house
Photo courtesy of Melson Forbes / ADN reader submission
A rare, extremely powerful winter storm hit northwestern Alaska on November 8 and 9, 2011, bringing hurricane-force winds, high seas, and heavy snow. Nome, the largest community affected by the storm, was buffeted by winds gusting to 66 miles per hour and a 10-foot storm surge. The National Weather Service reported wind gusts up to 85 miles per hour in Wales, northwest of Nome. Coastal flood warnings were still in effect throughout northwest Alaska on November 10.
Location: Shaktoolik, AK, 11/09/11 Anikan and Kiya looking to the flooded area's on the river side of Shaktoolik; taken at 12:45pm;
Photo courtesy of Gloria Andrew / ADN reader submission
Location: Shaktoolik, AK, 11/09/11 taken at 11:13am on the coast of Shaktoolik, AK
Photo courtesy of Gloria Andrew / ADN reader submission
Location: Shaktoolik, AK, 11/09/11 shows the ocean waves crashing onto the banks and wood pile behind the Shaktoolik School at 12:25pm
Photo courtesy of Gloria Andrew / ADN reader submission
Location: Shaktoolik, AK, 11/09/11 taken at 11:13am on the coast of Shaktoolik when high tides were coming in.
Photo courtesy of Gloria Andrew / ADN reader submission
Location: Tununak Ak, nov 9 , 2011 this is the road going to air port you can see how bad it is when it's long gone cant across it to go see the planes
Photo courtesy of Mr Usugan / ADN reader submission
A fishing boat that sank in a boat harbor is shown in Nome Nov. 10, 2011. A massive storm that battered Alaska's western coast with hurricane-strength winds and towering sea surges has passed out of the region in a much weaker state, leaving behind widespread damage and a missing man who may have been swept out to a churning sea.
Peggy Fagerstrom / AP2011
Standing water on the city side of Nome's seawall created a small whirlpool (foreground) on Wednesday afternoon, as increasingly strong waves continued to batter the coast (background).
Photo by Matthew Smith / KNOM Radio Mission
By mid-day Wednesday, November 9, 2011, chunks of ice had built up near the mouth of Nome's Snake River.
Photo by Ben Matheson / KNOM Radio Mission
Location: Tununak Ak, Mr Usugan this is road is going to the air port and you can see is really bad i think it have few more years or less , the high water reached the level and up and over the land
Photo courtesy of Mr Usugan / ADN reader submission
A rare, extremely powerful winter storm hit northwestern Alaska on November 8 and 9, 2011, bringing hurricane-force winds, high seas, and heavy snow. This satellite image was made November 8 as it approached Alaska's coastline.
NASA satellite image
This building on Nome's 1st Street took a beating during the storm. November 9, 2011
Photo by Rosa Schmidt / KNOM Radio Mission
On Wednesday afternoon, November 9, 2011, water levels continued to rise at Nome's port/harbor area.
Photo by David Dodman / KNOM Radio Mission
Location: White Mountain, AK, 11/09/11 Honuk Lincoln, his son B-Boy, and Dean Pushruk working to move boats to safety as the Fish River's level rose.
Photo courtesy of Joanna Wassillie / ADN reader submission
Some owners of small planes used trucks for protection from the big storm that hit Nome and other parts of western Alaska. No planes were seen flipped in Nome after the first part of the storm moved through Wednesday, November 9, 2011.
Photo by Peggy Fagerstrom
Nome's city crew cleans downtown early Wednesday morning, November 9, 2011 after the first part of the storm moved through the area.
Peggy Fagerstrom
The sea water from the storm broke up the ice on the Snake River which flows through Nome. November 9, 2011.
Photo by Peggy Fagerstrom
Workers on the Little Diomede school project photographed the affects of the storm on Little Diomede Island mid-day Wednesday, November 9, 2011.
Levi McKay and Dave Ward / ASRC SKW ESKIMOS
Some houses had their roofs blown off during the November 9, 2011 storm in Nome, Alaska.
Photo by Peggy Fagerstrom
A couple stand in front of flooded River Street in west Nome while the waves crash against the seawall, Wednesday, November 9, 2011. A greater surge is expected later Wednesday night.
Photo by Peggy Fagerstrom
River Street is under water at 4pm on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 in west Nome after the first storm surge. Another, bigger surge is expected later Wednesday night.
Photo by Peggy Fagerstrom
The strong winds from the storm blew off the roof of an apartment building in Nome, Alaska. November 9, 2011.
Photo by Peggy Fagerstrom
Workers on the Little Diomede school project photographed the affects of the storm on Little Diomede Island mid-day Wednesday, November 9, 2011.
Levi McKay and Dave Ward / ASRC SKW ESKIMOS
Daniel Lockhart gets a good shot of the rough Bering Sea on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 in Nome.
Photo by Peggy Fagerstrom
River Street is flooded with ocean water as it flows into the harbor at 4pm on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 in west Nome, Alaska.
Photo by Peggy Fagerstrom
Workers on the Little Diomede school project photographed the affects of the storm on Little Diomede Island mid-day Wednesday, November 9, 2011.
Levi McKay and Dave Ward / ASRC SKW ESKIMOS
Workers on the Little Diomede school project photographed the affects of the storm on Little Diomede Island mid-day Wednesday, November 9, 2011.
Levi McKay and Dave Ward / ASRC SKW ESKIMOS
A small seal got some rest on ice in the Snake River in Nome Wednesday, November 9, 2011 after a wild night with the Bering Sea storm that hit the region.
Photo by Peggy Fagerstrom
During a lull in the storm, the waves from the Bering Sea continue to crash over east Nome, Wednesday, November 9, 2011.
Photo by Peggy Fagerstrom
Location: Golovin, Alaska, 11/09/11 Neighbors home surrounded by water.
Photo courtesy of Chuck Lewis / ADN reader submission
Workers on the Little Diomede school project photographed the affects of the storm on Little Diomede Island mid-day Wednesday, November 9, 2011.
Levi McKay and Dave Ward / ASRC SKW ESKIMOS
The storm crashed along the coast in Shaktoolik Wednesday, November 9, 2011 and raised the water all around the community.
Elmer Bekoalok
The storm crashed along the coast in Shaktoolik Wednesday, November 9, 2011 and raised the water all around the community.
Elmer Bekoalok
The storm crashed along the coast in Shaktoolik Wednesday and raised the water all around the community.
Elmer Bekoalok
Nome kids plays in sea foam near the Nome harbor late Tuesday evening, November 8, 2011 as the big Bering Sea storm started kicking up.
Photo by Peggy Fagerstrom
Workers on the Little Diomede school project photographed the affects of the storm on Little Diomede Island mid-day Wednesday, November 9, 2011.
Levi McKay and Dave Ward / ASRC SKW ESKIMOS
The high water near Nome washed out the road on west beach during the storm on early Tuesday morning, November 9, 2011.
Photo by Peggy Fagerstrom
Workers on the Little Diomede school project photographed the affects of the storm on Little Diomede Island mid-day Wednesday, November 9, 2011.
Levi McKay and Dave Ward / ASRC SKW ESKIMOS
NOAA satellite imagery shows the storm's progress today.
Photo courtesy NOAA
The storm crashed along the coast in Shaktoolik Wednesday, November 9, 2011 and raised the water all around the community.
Elmer Bekoalok
The causeway being hit by waves before the big storm Tuesday November 8, 2011 in Nome.
Peggy Fagerstrom
Early morning cleanup happened in Nome after first storm surge and before second surge on Wednesday, November 9, 2011.
Photo by Peggy Fagerstrom
Pat Krier, owner of the Polar Cafe on Front Street, puts finishing touches to his windows while his crew carries merchandise out of the cellar to the 2nd floor Tuesday November 8, 2011 in Nome. During the last storm his building basement was flooded and he lost a lot of supplies due to water damage.
Peggy Fagerstrom
The storm crashed along the coast in Shaktoolik Wednesday, November 9, 2011 and raised the water all around the community.
Elmer Bekoalok
Workers on the Little Diomede school project photographed the affects of the storm on Little Diomede Island mid-day Wednesday, November 9, 2011.
Levi McKay and Dave Ward / ASRC SKW ESKIMOS
The storm crashed along the coast in Shaktoolik Wednesday and raised the water all around the community.
Elmer Bekoalok
The current hazard map shows the storm is letting up along the Aleutian chain but most of western Alaska is still under the warning status.November 9. 2011
US National Weather Service
Pat Krier ties down his propane tank on the ocean side of the Polar Cafe' in preparation for the storm Tuesday November 8, 2011 in Nome.
Peggy Fagerstrom
People rush to board up their windows Tuesday November 8, 2011 on East Front Street in Nome.
Peggy Fagerstrom
Workers on the Little Diomede school project photographed the affects of the storm on Little Diomede Island mid-day Wednesday, November 9, 2011.
Levi McKay and Dave Ward / ASRC SKW ESKIMOS
The Nome Trading Company on Front Street continues to serve customers after boarding up all the windows in preparation for the big storm Tuesday November 8, 2011 in Nome.
Peggy Fagerstrom
The storm crashed along the coast in Shaktoolik Wednesday and raised the water all around the community.
Elmer Bekoalok
Charlie Weyauvanna plays in sea foam late Tuesday evening ,November 8, 2011 as the big Bering Sea storm started kicking up.
Photo by Peggy Fagerstrom
Location: Golovin, Alaska, 11/09/11
Photo courtesy of John Peterson / ADN reader submission
Pat Krier, owner of the Polar Cafe, boards up the back of his business facing the seawall and the Bering Sea Tuesday November 8, 2011 in Nome.
Peggy Fagerstrom
Charlie Weyauvanna plays in sea foam late Tuesday evening ,November 8, 2011 as the big Bering Sea storm started kicking up.
Photo by Peggy Fagerstrom
The Nome Nugget newspaper is all boarded up awaiting the big storm Tuesday November 8, 2011 in Nome.
Peggy Fagerstrom
Captured by the NOAA-19 satellite's AVHRR sensor, the storming bearing down on Alaska is seen in this infrared imagery on November 8, 2011 at 1400z. The storm is predicted to bring hurricane force winds and surge through the Bering Strait. Coastal flood warnings are in effect for much of western Alaska. Because of Alaska's high latitude, geostationary satellite do not provide adequate coverage. Polar-orbiting satellites like NOAA-19 are required to monitor severe weather in such areas. However, polar-orbiting satellites acquire imagery as swaths as the orbit around the planet. The area outside of the swath is visible in this image.
NOAA
Location: Tununak AK, nov 9, 2011 this one after the storms hit us , And you can see how the tide camed in last night from the snow line on the seawall about close to 3/4 ,and most of the down town area went to the school to do the flood and they had no power from air port to the old post office and the wind camed from the southeast guesting at seventy-five to eighty knots but gladly the water didnt make to the village
Photo courtesy of MR Usugan / ADN reader submission
Location: Nome, AK, 11/08/11
Photo courtesy of James Standish / ADN reader submission
Location: Saint Michael, 11/9/11 12:30 PM The wind-generated tidal surge rapidly floods low-lying lands in Saint Michael. With several hours yet before the predicted high tide for the day, we don't know the full extent of the flooding.
Photo courtesy of M. Thompson / ADN reader submission
Location: Saint Michael, 11/9/11 12:30 PM Living only 100 yards from the beach has occasional disadvantages. The fish racks typically define the beach line.
Photo courtesy of M. Thompson / ADN reader submission
Location: South East end of St. Michael, 11/9/11 8 homes are not accessible by road.
Photo courtesy of Charlene Austin / ADN reader submission
Location: Saint Michael, 11/9/11 12:30 PM
Photo courtesy of M. Thompson / ADN reader submission
Location: Saint Michael, 11/9/11 12:30 PM This road was perfectly dry at 8:00 AM, but flooded and completely impassible by 9:00 AM.
Photo courtesy of M. Thompson / ADN reader submission
Location: Kotlik, 11/9/2011 Rising flood waters in Kotlik.
Photo courtesy of Stella Rose / ADN reader submission
Location: 11/9/2011, Kotlik Rising flood waters in Kotlik.
Photo courtesy of Stella Rose / ADN reader submission
Location: Kotlik, 11/9/2011 Rising flood waters in Kotlik.
Photo courtesy of Stella Rose / ADN reader submission
Location: Kotlik, 11/9/2011 Rising flood waters in Kotlik.
Photo courtesy of Stella Rose / ADN reader submission
Location: Kotlik, 11/9/2011 Rising flood waters in Kotlik.
Photo courtesy of Stella Rose / ADN reader submission
Location: Kotlik, 11/9/2011 Rising flood waters in Kotlik.
Photo courtesy of Stella Rose / ADN reader submission
Location: Kotlik, 11/9/2011 Rising flood waters in Kotlik.
Photo courtesy of Stella Rose / ADN reader submission
Location: Nome, Alaska, 11/8/2011 The Bering Sea kicks up near Nome, AK as a huge storm moves into western Alaska on Tuesday, November 8, 2011.
Photo courtesy of Catherine Lepine / ADN reader submission
Location: Nome, Alaska, 11/8/2011 Wind driven snow plasters a door in Nome, AK as a huge storm moves into western Alaska on Tuesday, November 8, 2011.
Photo courtesy of Catherine Lepine / ADN reader submission
Location: Nome, 11/8/11 Photo taken by Kacey Miller of Nome; 11/8 at 8pm across from the Nome Elementary school.
Photo courtesy of Kacey Miller / ADN reader submission
Location: Nome, AK, 11/8/11 Photo taken by Kacey Miller of Nome; 7:30 pm on 11/8 at 6th and I.
Photo courtesy of Kacey Miller / ADN reader submission
Location: Nome, 11/8/11 Picture taken by Kacey Miller of Nome; 11/8 at 6pm. Powerlines whipping in the wind.
Photo courtesy of Kacey Miller / ADN reader submission

A giant Bering Sea storm with hurricane-force winds roared up the western Alaska coastline Wednesday, sending waves over storm barriers, knocking out electricity, flooding parts of some villages and leading to evacuations. But as of Wednesday evening, officials had heard no reports of injuries nor massive damage.

There were reports of buildings damaged, roads under water and major beach erosion, and authorities emphasized Wednesday night that the worst hadn't necessarily passed, with water still rising in some communities and warnings still in effect through this morning.

In Nome, the largest city in the path of the storm, peak water levels arrived at about 6 p.m. and began a slow decline, the National Weather Service said.

"Waves are coming over the east end of town there over the road, with small debris," said Stephen Kearney, a meteorologist for the Weather Service. The seas rose about 10 feet above normal levels, with water spilling to the door of the mini convention center and flooding a street near the small boat harbor, he said.

While videos of the storm showed angry waves pounding the edge of the city, the Weather Service had received no other initial reports of damage from the evening flooding.

"Nome is A-OK. They've closed their shelter down," said Bryan Fisher, incident commander with the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, at about 8:30 p.m. "They're closing their emergency operations center down for the evening." But storm waters were still rising elsewhere along the northern coast Wednesday night as families in village after village left their homes and took refuge in local schools, prepared for the worst.

Flooding in the Kotzebue Sound village of Deering forced evacuation of about 100 people to the school, Fisher said. That's nearly everyone in the village, according to state population estimates.

Police in Point Hope reported flooding in that northwest Alaska village, with water within 10 feet of the airport, along with a power outage and widespread evacuation to the school, Kearney said.

Minor flooding also was reported in villages across the state, including Shishmaref, Kwigillingok, Kipnuk, St. Michael, Stebbins, Scammon Bay, Tununak and Unalakleet, according to the state emergency operations center.

The Weather Service issued flood warnings for eastern Norton Sound and the Chukchi Sea Coast through 6 a.m. today.

"Our concern is really in the northwest part of the area, with the way the winds are," Fisher said. "Kivalina, Shishmaref and those areas we're focused on over the next few hours."

Kivalina, population 400, which sits on a thread of land facing the Chukchi Sea. There, gusts approaching 70 mph bullied snowmachiners as they tried to ferry residents to shelter on icy roads.

In the beachfront village of Wales, about 110 miles north of Nome, chefs prepared tuna casserole for storm-watch refugees and villagers watched movies on laptops at the schoolhouse.

Mayor Frank Crisci suspected late-night waves, already lapping at the school garage, to damage the washeteria or maybe uproot a septic tank.

"What I'm more concerned with is the cemetery site," Crisci said.

Villagers killed in the 1918 flu epidemic are buried near the airport, an area that could be within reach of the waves if the waters pour too far inland, the mayor said.

(Earlier, winds gusted to 89 mph in the village, according to the National Weather Service. Imagine the sound of a freight train, Crisci said.)

Weather Service officials said communities along Norton Sound and Kotzebue Sound were the most at risk of flooding, with a possible sea level increase of 1 to 2 feet as high tides and the storm surge combined.

"When these things line up, and the winds line up, you have your greatest threat potential," said Jeff Osiensky, the weather service's regional warning coordinator. "Fortunately, the wind component will be decreasing or lessening as the storm starts to deteriorate."

The storm's track will cause southerly and southeasterly winds to shift to a more westerly flow, Osiensky said. That means areas with ocean directly to their south and west would be more susceptible to water, he said.

And while none of the communities hit by the storm have requested help from the state yet, the villages of Deering and Kotlik had already reported water in town early Wednesday, said David Kang, an official with the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. The state expected more communities to report water damage as the evening progressed, Kang said.

"We're still in the midst of this," Kang said Wednesday afternoon.

The state continues to monitor several villages with periodic power outages, Kang said.

Nunam Iqua on the Lower Yukon River lost electricity for several hours Wednesday morning, said resident Alphonsus Pete. Snowdrifts buried snowmachines and rising water floated a smokehouse into the river.

"We're in the middle of trying to rescue all the boats," she said early Wednesday.

Meteorologists have said the Alaska storm may be the worst in 40 years.

Osiensky, the National Weather Service official, compared the tempest to a Category 3 hurricane.

"It went particularly far north, for such a strong storm, so the impacts were much larger than what we would typically see up here in Alaska," he said.

Updated NWS Alaska warnings map
Photos: Bering Sea storm
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By KYLE HOPKINS, CASEY GROVE and MIKE DUNHAM
Anchorage Daily News
Contact Kyle Hopkins at or on