Hurricane-force winds, blown-off roofs: Alaska hasn't seen this kind of horrible snowstorm since the 1970s.
- High winds and surging breakers pummeled Alaska's western coast Tuesday and Wednesday, forcing some residents to evacuate. The last time Alaska saw such a Bering Sea 'super storm' was in 1974. (Peggy Fagerstrom) (Photo: Associated Press)
Despite what that latchkey kid biking in the surf might suggest, the snowstorm that just hit Alaska was deathly fierce. In fact, the state hasn't seen anything like it since 1974, when a similar Bering Sea monster churned up a sea surge higher than 13 feet in Nome. That city is also ground zero for this departing storm, as well as a mysterious disease that causes the fur of seals to fall out in hunks, for what it's worth.
The National Weather Service has estimated that this system was as powerful as a Category 3 hurricane. Winds shooting past 90 m.p.h. pulled the roofs right off of buildings and fearless, frigid waters seeped into high grounds where they didn't belong. It was the kind of terrific Arctic storm in which furiously frothing waves as tall as 30 feet treated a multiple-ton shipping container like a rubber ducky, at least in the remote island of Little Diomede:
NWS meteorologists observed the frosty system on Tuesday via polar-orbiting satellite as it charged toward Alaska. Here's what the abominable snowbringer looked like, as seen through the dead eyes of NOAA's Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer:
And this is a colorized infrared image from NOAA acquired on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011:
The storm lost potency on Wednesday night but still was causing headaches in small towns 'round Alaska. A late dispatch from the Anchorage Daily News said floodwaters were creeping up to a mass influenza grave from 1918, which sounds ominous for some reason. Here's more footage from right before the storm and during its screaming fit. That hat is a goner, dude, leave it!