According to National Weather Service forecasts, a rapidly developing significant winter storm system is anticipated to affect the west coast of Alaska today and tomorrow. We are closely monitoring the situation through our regional office in Bothell, Wash., our area office in Anchorage, Alaska, and the National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C.
The National Weather Service has issued winter storm, blizzard, coastal and inland flood warnings along the Bering Sea and west coast of Alaska and forecasts that this system will intensify as it moves northward.
We encourage Alaskans to monitor weather conditions closely and to follow the direction provided by their local officials. If local authorities order an evacuation, leave immediately, follow evacuation routes announced by officials, and stay away from coastal areas, river banks and streams.
As forecasts call for the potential for coastal flooding, remember that it can take only a few minutes to a few hours for flooding to develop. Be prepared to take detours and adjust your route due to road closures if there is standing water. Driving through a flooded area can be extremely hazardous, so when in your car, look out for flooding in low lying areas, at bridges, and at highway dips. Remember that as little as six inches of water may cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
Make sure your emergency supply kit is ready. It should include at least a three-day supply of food and water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries, and other items specific to your family’s needs. (Power outages can often occur during severe winter storms, so check out yesterday’s blog post with power outage tips.)
Finally, 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
In preparation for the storm:
- We have been in constant communication with our state and federal partners including Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, National Weather Service, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Department of Defense,
- We have placed liaisons at the Alaska State Emergency Operations Center in Anchorage, Alaska to coordinate federal support as needed and deployed an Incident Management Assistance Team to support state efforts at the Alaska State Emergency Operations Center, and
- We have also activated the Regional Response Coordination Center in Bothell, Wash. and the National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C. to continue to monitor conditions and coordinate federal support to the state, as needed.
As this storm system develops, we will continue to closely coordinate with our federal, state and local partners. For more information and winter preparedness tips, please visit: www.Ready.gov/winter to find out how you can prepare your family for winter storms and other disasters.