An unusual weather system is pushing water into the Norton Sound, creating high water and climbing waves normally seen during fall storms.
Morris Nashoanak is the Mayor of Stebbins where he said 35 to 40 mph winds pushed waves 10 feet past the high tide line Monday. “This type of weather,” Nashoanak said, “would be like in October or November. The waves were humungous, pounding on the beach.”
Nashoanak said no elders remember seeing water that high outside fall storm season.
Nearby in St. Michael, Scott Lockwood, Tribal Response Program Assistant for the St. Michael IRA, reported a similar situation.
“It looked like the fall storm came early,” Lockwood said. “About 30 feet of the beach was underwater. The tide line is usually about 10, 15 feet from the bank, and the water went all the way up to the bank.”
Lockwood said the water swamped three boats in St. Michael. Nashoanak reported no damages in Stebbins.
Across the Sound in Nome, Jerry Steiger is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. He said the weather system is an anomaly for summertime.
“We do have some seas that are higher than normal for this time of year,” Steiger said. “Definitely not anything way out of normal for fall time, but for mid-July, it’s a little bit more of unsettling weather, especially in the marine activity.”
That marine activity is a water surge that is raising ocean levels about two feet throughout the Norton Sound and creating waves six to seven feet high. Steiger said all that water is being pushed into the Sound by a southwesterly wind created by a high pressure ridge to the south dueling with a low pressure system to the north.
According to Steiger, the southwesterly wind and high water should last through Thursday.
Steiger said, “We have waves six to seven feet out there, and that will probably continue at least into tomorrow. It looks like by Friday we should start to see the winds turn around to the north again, and that will flatten out the seas here locally on the Eastern Norton Sound area and Norton Sound here.”
Until that wind turns and calms the Sound, Nome Harbormaster Lucas Stotts is asking harbor users to secure their vessels.
“Basically,” Stotts said, “we would just like folks who have small craft on Belmont Beach and in the harbor to monitor their vessels’ lines as with this southwesterly storm is going to be increasing our water level, and we don’t want anybody to float their anchor and drift away.”
To listen the marine forecast for the Norton Sound tune into KNOM at 9 o’ clock am, 12 o’ clock noon, and 6 o’ clock pm every day. You can also read the report online from the National Weather Service, Alaska Regional Headquarters.