State officials prepare for another storm to hit Northwestern Alaska

The press conference included a review at what actions state officials have taken so far in repairs from the aftermath left behind from Typhoon Merbok
Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 6:45 PM AKDT|Updated: Oct. 6, 2022 at 7:55 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - State officials addressed the public Wednesday afternoon regarding a new storm that is set to hit the northwest part of the state, just weeks after an historic weather event pummeled Western Alaska.

Wednesday’s press conference included a review of what actions state officials have taken so far in repairs from the aftermath left behind by the mid-September storm spawned by the remnants of Typhoon Merbok. They also revealed what they have planned in relief efforts for the new storm.

According to officials, 50 people continue to remain displaced in the impacted region of the state. State officials say repairs will not be able to be completed on the 15 houses that were completely destroyed during the previous storm.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy said that a total of 161 homes have been inspected since the first storm, with 123 being considered as having sustained “major damage.”

Officials said they are still working in communities like Nome to repair roads that have sustained damage. Gov. Dunleavy said their goal is to finish roadwork repair by Oct. 15, prior to the city receiving its first freeze of the season.

However, the new storm has the potential of pushing back those plans. The new storm is expected to revisit areas on the west coast with strong winds and immense coastal flooding again.

David Kremer with the National Weather Service said this storm will be unusual.

“This storm is unique in that it is going to continue to get stronger as it moves into the western portions of the Chukchi Sea,” Kremer said. “So for that area for this time of year, this will be one of the strongest storms that we have seen.”

Plan of action for storm that is positioned to hit Northwestern Alaska

Kremer said they do not expect these areas to be as heavily impacted as they were in the first storm, but cautioned that both the potential setback delays and the full impact will not be determined until after the storm hits.

“We don’t know what this impending storm will do to that. That may push a freeze-up back a few days a week or so unless there is some extraordinary event that we’re not anticipating at this point,” Dunleavy said. “But, nonetheless again we are pre-positioning assets. We can’t answer that question unfortunately until the storm actually hits and we see how that storm manifests itself.”

The state said they are taking precautions to prepare for the aftermath of this storm. Dunleavy said the Alaska National Guard currently has personnel mobilized in both Nome and Bethel. Maj. Gen. Torrence Saxe said they are ready when needed.

“So, the same thing will happen. We will get the forces out there, the helicopters will be out there, and then depending on the damages, we’ll get the forces out to the various communities that need help. But this could be a different storm as we’ve heard. So, we are getting people ready now with what we call a warning order. And we will be ready to go,” Saxe said.