11-9-2011Alaska braces for "epic" storm
Alaska braces for "epic" storm
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.
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.
"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.