A massive, potentially record-breaking storm caused major flooding and damage to coastal Alaskan towns Saturday morning, and some residents were evacuated. Gov. Mike Dunleavy said he had “verbally declared” a disaster for communities affected by the storm.
The governor said on Twitter that no injuries were reported. “We will continue to monitor the storm and keep Alaskans informed as much as possible,” he said. tweeted.
In the town of Golovin, major flooding was reported early Saturday, according to the National Weather Service, and forecasters warned it would only get worse. The city could see another 1-2 feet of water by the end of the day.
“Water surrounds the school, homes and structures are flooded, at least a few homes are floating on foundations, some older fuel tanks are overturned,” the Fairbanks Weather Service office said. tweeted.
Pictures of the weather service showed the high water levels there.
Another town, Shaktoolik, reported coastal flooding, with water “entering the community and approaching some homes”, according to the weather service. Residents were evacuated to a school and a clinic. Shaktoolik was also expected to see the worst of the storm later in the day.
According to NWSthe water level in Nome exceeded 10 feet on Saturday and is expected to continue to rise.
The weather service also shared footage from a webcam in Unalakleet, comparing an average day in the town to the scene there on Saturday morning.
As of Saturday morning, large swaths of the state’s west coast were subject to coastal flooding and high wind warnings. The weather service said the flood warnings would remain in effect until Sunday evening, while the wind warnings were due to expire on Saturday evening.
Other parts of the state are subject to gale and storm warnings, according to the weather service.
The weather service shared peak of wind gusts reported at 8 a.m. local time – highest recorded was 91 mph at Cape Romanzof. Several other towns, including Golovin, saw winds above 60 mph.
The center of the storm was located just south of the Bering Strait on Saturday morning, the weather service said.
The storm is the remnants of Typhoon Merbok, andthis could lead to “potentially historic” flooding, with some coastal areas seeing water levels up to 11ft higher than normal high tide.