Alaska is about to be hit by a super-storm.
A ferocious, dangerous storm in the north Pacific is on a collision course with the west coast of Alaska. Referred to as the “Bering Sea Superstorm” by the National Weather Service Office in Fairbanks (NWS), damaging winds, severe beach erosion and major coastal flooding are expected. In some locations, heavy snow and blizzard conditions are also forecast.Double Yikes!
“This will be one of the most severe Bering Sea storms on record,” the NWS wrote today.
The storm is predicted to deepen at an incredible rate, with its central pressure crashing from 973 mb this morning to 945-950 mb tonight.
“This storm has the potential to produce widespread damage,” the NWS in Fairbanks said.
Sustained winds of 80 mph (with gusts to 90 mph in some locations) may impact an area the size of Colorado with offshore waves to more than 40 feet according to the NWS Facebook page. A storm surge of 8 to 10 feet is predicted along the coast. The combination of wind, waves, and high sea levels will create many hazards as described by the NWS in a Special Weather Statement:
THE HIGH SEA LEVELS COMBINED WITH HIGH WAVES WILL PRODUCE SEVERE BEACH EROSION AND MAJOR COASTAL FLOODING ALONG THE NORTHERN AND EASTERN SHORES OF NORTON SOUND AND ALONG THE BERING STRAIT COAST. HIGH WATER LEVELS WILL PRODUCE COASTAL FLOODING ALONG THE SOUTHERN SHORE OF NORTON SOUND. STRONG WINDS AND WAVE ACTION MAY PUSH ICE IN NORTON BAY ON SHORE. [More]
I suspect this is another example of storm intensification due to global warming. I cannot prove this, I admit. But I'm not alone in thinking storms could become more powerful for this reason
Kerry Emanuel, the lead author of the new study, wrote a paper in 2005 reporting an apparent link between a warming climate and an increase in hurricane intensity. That paper attracted worldwide attention because it was published in Nature just three weeks before Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans.The combination of more energy from hotter air and more water vapor leads me to prepare for a wider range of weather possibilities. Luckily, I'm not quite as close to an ocean or Arctic air as those guys hunkering down in AK.
Emanuel, a professor of atmospheric science in MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, says the new research provides an independent validation of the earlier results, using a completely different approach. The paper was co-authored by postdoctoral fellow Ragoth Sundararajan and graduate student John Williams and recently appeared in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.
While the earlier study was based entirely on historical records of past hurricanes, showing nearly a doubling in the intensity of Atlantic storms over the last 30 years, the new work is purely theoretical. It made use of a new technique to add finer-scale detail to computer simulations called Global Circulation Models, which are the basis for most projections of future climate change.
"It strongly confirms, independently, the results in the Nature paper," Emanuel said. "This is a completely independent analysis and comes up with very consistent results."
Worldwide, both methods show an increase in the intensity and duration of tropical cyclones, the generic name for what are known as hurricanes in the North Atlantic. But the new work shows no clear change in the overall numbers of such storms when run on future climates predicted using global climate models. [More]