The National Weather Service says there have been no reports of injuries or serious damage in the monster storm that smacked into the western Aleutians on Friday.
The worst part of the storm, forged from the remnants of Japan's Typhoon Nuri, hit over the open water of the Bering Sea and the largely uninhabited islands of the far western Aleutians, where there is very little infrastructure. Hurricane-force winds of up to 96 mph pummeled the U.S. Air Force installation on the island of Shemya, where about 120 civilian contractors were in lockdown on Friday.
The winds battering Shemya peaked at 11:02 a.m. Friday, said Shaun Baines, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Anchorage. A high wind advisory for the region was lifted at 9 a.m. Saturday. A preliminary assessment of the Air Force installation, Eareckson Air Station, revealed only minor damage, said Tommie Baker, community relations chief with the Alaskan Command Public Affairs Office.
School let out early in the community of Adak on Friday, further east in the Aleutians, as winds picked up and rain poured down. But the storm quieted later Friday night.
"Last night was actually nice, actually calmed down to 15," city manager Layton Lockett wrote in an email. "This morning we're getting a mixture of sleet and pelleted snow (if you could really call it that). Probably blowing 20-30 now. But no damage, except some more siding coming off a demo project."
A spokeswoman for the Coast Guard in Kodiak said Saturday that no damage or distress calls had been reported as of 8 a.m.
Cargo and fishing boats, alerted earlier in the week of hurricane-force winds and high seas, gave the region a wide berth on Friday.
The storm is now about to reach the southwest coast of Alaska but it is significantly weakened and resembles a typical winter storm, Baines said.
As it became clear that the worst was over, fear and anxiety gave way to sheer wonder at the size and scope of the storm.
From north to south, the storm stretched all the way from 68 north latitude to 40 north latitude -- a distance of nearly 2,000 miles.
In his 12 years in Alaska, Baines said, he's never seen such a low central pressure, which packed more of a punch than 2012's Hurricane Sandy. The Bering Sea storm's pressure was recorded on a floating buoy and bottomed out at 929.8 millibars, just east of the low center.
Hurricane Sandy had an overall recorded central pressure of 940 millibars. The lowest recorded pressure in a storm in Alaska is 925 millibars. Winter storms tend to bottom out in the range of 940 millibars, Baines said.
"It's something I'll maybe only see once while working up here," Baines said.