As a dangerous storm continues to make landfall along the west coast of Alaska, we continue to be in close contact with our federal, state and local partners in monitoring the storm. As of 9 a.m. Alaska standard time (1 p.m. EST) the National Weather Service has issued winter storm, blizzard and coastal flood warnings along the Bering Sea and West Coast of Alaska and predicts that sustained winds and elevated water levels will continue to affect a large portion of the western Alaska coast today, before beginning to subside, from south to north, this evening.
Local officials in several small, tribal villages located along the coast of the Bering Sea have initiated evacuations for coastal and low-lying sections of their communities. We encourage Alaskans to monitor weather conditions closely and to follow the direction provided by their local officials.
And if you’re in the potentially affected area, familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify a winter storm hazard and discuss with your family what to do if a winter storm watch or warning is issued.
Terms used to describe a winter storm hazard include the following:
- Freezing Rain creates a coating of ice on roads and walkways.
- Sleet is rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes roads to freeze and become slippery.
- Winter Weather Advisory means cold, ice and snow are expected.
- Winter Storm Watch means severe weather such as heavy snow or ice is possible in the next day or two.
- Winter Storm Warning means severe winter conditions have begun or will begin very soon.
What We’re Doing
As we mentioned in yesterday’s update, we placed liaison officers and a regional Incident Management Assistance Team in Alaska in advance of the storm to coordinate with the state if federal support is needed. Through these teams, we continue to coordinate closely with the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, National Weather Service, U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Department of Defense as the situation develops.
In addition to the Incident Management Assistance Team, other federal activities include:
- The Department of Defense has regional liaisons at the Alaska Area Office in Anchorage that are also providing support to the state for any coordination of federal resources that may be needed.
- Yesterday, the U.S. Coast Guard conducted a flyover along the Bering Sea coast to gain an aerial and photographic assessment of the area, with additional flyovers planned today.
Since Monday, the National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C. and the Regional Response Coordination Center in Bothell, Washington have been monitoring the storm and supporting on a 24-hour basis. Finally, we have additional teams standing by, including preliminary damage assessment teams, should their assistance be required.
For those not in Alaska, the severe winter storm serves as a reminder to get prepared for the cold weather months. Ready.gov/winter has tips on getting your family, home or workplace prepared for severe winter weather, or visit http://m.fema.gov for tips on your phone. (And in case you haven’t heard, you can download the FEMA app in the Android market and Apple store – packed full of safety tips and a place to record the items in your family’s emergency kit.)