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‘Very strong’ storm poised to strike Bering Sea communities

A powerful storm could menace Western Alaska communities with 60 mph gusts and floods starting Sunday, potentially causing damage in villages lacking coastal sea ice to stop waves.

The storm should generate high winds and surf along the extreme western Seward Peninsula and St.  Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea through Tuesday, said Tyler Rodenbaugh, a meteorologist with the agency in Fairbanks.

Tempests in the region have packed an extra punch in recent years as sea ice has shrunk, leaving coastal communities increasingly exposed to wave damage.

Storms shredded roads and other property in coastal communities last fall and winter, including Utqiagvik, formerly Barrow, leaving costly damage and leading to a state disaster declaration.

Residents in the village of Gambell on St. Lawrence Island on Saturday were making sure boats and other items are secured, said Edmond Apassingok, 55, secretary for the village corporation.

The storm will be the village's first major storm this fall, he said.

Families typically have extra food on hand for situations like this, in case winds prevent planes from reaching the island for several days, he said.

"It will cause erosion on our northern beach," Apassingok said of the storm, though the ocean shouldn't reach the road, he said.

The weather service is calling for winds from the northeast between 35 mph and 45 mph. Gusts could reach 60 mph.

The agency has issued a high-wind warning for the region, with slight chance of snow and rain. It's keeping an eye on the system to determine if further warnings are necessary, said Rodenbaugh.

"We're expecting elevated water levels, and strong winds affecting east-facing and north-facing shorelines," he said.

A "very strong" low-pressure system is moving in from the west, generating the winds, he said. The winds could also causing flooding along coasts, the agency said.

A strong storm system will impact portions of the Bering Sea early next week. Northeasterly winds from this system are...

Posted by US National Weather Service Alaska on Friday, November 9, 2018

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