The Bering Sea Superstorm, as deep and intense as many major hurricanes Wednesday, has gradually weakened, but continues raking parts of west and northwest Alaska.
“It’s barely beginning to wind down along the coast,” Stephen Kearney, a meteorologist for the Weather Service in Fairbanks, told the Associated Press (AP) late Wednesday night.
The storm’s barometric pressure, as low as 943 mb Wednesday, had risen to 958 mb this morning and is forecast to reach 971 mb by noon local time (4 p.m. EST).
In a Facebook update this morning, the National Weather Service cautioned significant impacts will persist through the afternoon:
Water levels will remain elevated through Thursday afternoon. ... Westerly winds developing today may elevate water levels up to near 8 feet again, especially along west facing shores. Ice in Norton Bay could shove inland and cause severe damage. Coastal flooding and erosion will continue through the day.
Winds from the southwest at 30 to 50 mph are forecast, down from 50-70 mph (with gusts to near 90 mph) Wednesday. In Nome, winds were still gusting over 40 mph Thursday morning.
Wednesday night, water levels peaked at 10 feet above normal in Nome, breaking over a sea wall according to the National Weather Service.
The AP reported “no new reports of substantial damage”, however.
Across western Alaska more broadly, the Anchorage Daily News said “there were reports of buildings damaged, roads under water and major beach erosion”, but no reports of injuries or “massive damage.”
The storm is the strongest to hit the western part of the state since 1974 and had been described by the National Weather Service as “epic”, “historic”, and “life-threatening.”
Watch this video of the storm slamming Little Diomede, an island on the very western extreme of Alaska, less than a mile from the international date line, and just 2.4 miles from the Russian island of Big Diomede.