Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy declared a state of disaster Saturday as a powerful storm threatens huge swaths of the state’s vast and sparsely populated western coastline.
Towns are facing strong winds and flooding, and bracing for possible power outages caused by a storm forecasters are calling one of the worst in the state’s recent history.
The storm systems continued to “produce a potentially historic and long-duration storm surge, and damaging high winds across southwestern and western Alaska,” the National Weather Service said Saturday.
More than 100 people were sheltering at a school in Hooper Bay as floodwaters rose Saturday afternoon, AK Public Media News reported. The tide level in Nome reached more than 10 feet Saturday afternoon, Weather Service gages show.
The remnants of Typhoon Merbok are expected to bring moderate to heavy rainfall to the region until Sunday morning. On Saturday morning, a “very angry sea” brought storm surge into the community of Port of Nome, the Weather Service station in Fairbanks, Alaska tweeted. Wind gusts could reach hurricane strength in some areas, Weather Service forecasts say.
Significant coastal flooding is expected until Sunday morning, with the highest water levels Saturday afternoon, the Weather Service said.
On Saturday, photos showed roads in Golovin, Alaska, were covered with floodwater and the tide reached homes, causing a couple of homes to float off their foundations, the Weather Service station in Fairbanks, Alaska said. Other photos show multiple feet of water engulfing parts of fencing, stairs and a swing set.
Golovin, Alaska is a small town about 70 miles east of Nome.
‘HISTORIC-LEVEL STORM’:Alaska braces for floods, power outages
Likely wind gusts of 50 to 75 mph may also topple trees, damage roofs and buildings, and lead to substantial power outages, according to AccuWeather. The storm will also create “life-threatening conditions” for fishing operations, AccuWeather said, warning small boats to remain in port.
There were no injuries reported as of Saturday afternoon, Dunleavy said on Twitter.
‘One of the strongest storms to ever hit the state,’ forecasters say
The storm’s impacts may exceed the 2011 Bering Sea Superstorm, one of the most powerful cyclones to affect Alaska on record, the National Weather Service in Fairbanks said, adding that some parts of the state may experience their worst coastal flooding in almost 50 years.
AccuWeather called it “one of the strongest storms to ever hit the state of Alaska.”
The storm is expected to calm later in the weekend as it drifts across the Arctic Circle, AccuWeather said, adding that most of the storm’s impacts will be concentrated in western and northern Alaska.
Other parts of the state, including Fairbanks and Anchorage, may see some rain Sunday night to Monday, AccuWeather forecast.
TROPICAL STORM FIONA FORMS:Storm headed toward Puerto Rico
Tropical Storm Fiona to hit Puerto Rico
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Fiona is expected to dump up to 16 inches of rain on parts of Puerto Rico on Saturday, threatening severe flooding, landslides and power outages.
The storm is expected to become a hurricane as it nears Puerto Rico, just after battering the eastern Caribbean islands. One death was reported Saturday in Guadeloupe, a French territory in the southern Caribbean Sea.
Puerto Rican authorities have opened shelters and shuttered public beaches, theaters and museums, urging people to remain indoors.
Contributing: The Associated Press