Alaska News

North Pacific 'super typhoon' headed toward Bering Sea region

The biggest storm "in a very long time" is headed toward the Bering Sea region and could strike the western Aleutian Islands by Friday, says the National Weather Service.

The storm currently known as Super Typhoon Nuri is expected to skirt the east coast of Japan by Wednesday. Anchorage-based meteorologist Matthew Clay said it could bring hurricane-force winds, storm surges, coastal erosion and flooding to communities in the Aleutians and the Pribilof Islands in the Bering Sea.

"Confidence is on the rise that a very significant system will impact (the) Bering Sea by late this week and into next," the weather service said in a forecast discussion online posted Tuesday morning.

Clay said St. Paul, in the Pribilofs, is one Alaska community that could be hit hard by the storm.

St. Paul Harbor Master Jason Merculief said the village of 453 has been hit by many large storms, but there is little residents can do to protect the harbor. "If the winds are from the southwest, like the weather service says, our harbor will take a beating," he said.

To Merculief's knowledge, the harbor hasn't been badly damaged by a storm since the 1980s, while it was being built.

"Right now, we only have about one boat coming in a week for crabbing season, but it depends," said Merculief. He added that boats won't be able to get into the harbor during a bad storm and must go to a sheltered side of the island to wait it out.

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Unalaska, which has the largest population of any community in the Aleutian Islands, sits amid terrain that can break harsh winds and protect the city, said Clay.

The storm is expected to first hit Shemya, an island near Attu Island in the far western Aleutians, on Friday afternoon. Clay said he expects the weather service to have a much clearer picture of what the storm will bring by Wednesday.

Megan Edge

Megan Edge is a former reporter for Alaska Dispatch and Alaska Dispatch News.

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