Western Alaska Prepares During Calm Before Typhoon Nuri

Mariners around the Aleutian Islands brace themselves for 50-foot waves.

BySuzanne Yeo and Susanna Kim
November 06, 2014, 7:18 PM

— -- Sig Hansen, captain of the fishing vessel Northwestern, featured in the television series "Deadliest Catch," told ABC News that folks in Alaskan waters are bracing themselves for what Typhoon Nuri's remnants may bring, including 50-foot waves.

The harsh weather may hit the Aleutian Island chain in Alaska as early as Friday. Hansen has been fishing King Crab, northeast of Dutch Harbor in the Bering Sea, about 300 miles away.

"Right now, the weather's decent. We've been watching the weather reports, and so that's what's got us kind of skittish," he said. "We've had other reports coming in, which are very strange, like 25-knot winds with 30-plus foot [waves]. It's just very uncommon, so you know something's coming. It's just a warning sign for now. We're just on pins and needles here."

PHOTO: Wednesday morning wake up to wind chills. Single digits in the Northern Plains, teens from Texas to Cleveland, and 20s all the way down to Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
And here it is. Wednesday morning wake up to wind chills. Single digits in the Northern Plains, teens from Texas to Cleveland, and 20s all the way down to Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Actual temperatures will be near 20 degrees below normal…and in the Midwest highs will be below freezing and lows near 0. That’s about a 30 degree drop in temperatures from this week.
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"We're just keeping our fingers crossed that it doesn't push in a more easterly direction, and bring those 70-knot winds this way," he said. "Right now, we're at battle stations. In other words, we need about a 24-hour notice to get our boats, our gear, and get onto shore. You don't want to be out here."

PHOTO: This very strong storm will also indirectly affect the mainland US in the form of extreme temperatures.
This very strong storm will also indirectly affect the mainland US in the form of extreme temperatures. It will help enhance the ridge out west which will in turn amplify the trough in the east, combining with other factors, and producing an arctic blast next week.
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"From what I'm hearing, we haven't been through anything like that before, at least not in my lifetime," he said. "And I don't want to. We've seen 50-foot waves, we've seen 120-knot winds. I've been out in stuff like that. But the difference is, if it's going to hit here with that kind of power, you don't know the frequency of the waves. We don't know how it's going to affect the ocean differently. I don't want to stick around to find out."

Kip Wadlow, U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson in Juneau, Alaska, said emergency crews are standing by with helicopters and a 378-foot cutter. The emergency crews were already ready for duty to assist with the crab fishing season.

"These assets are standing by to provide assistance if called upon. We are working with federal and state tribal partners to keep an eye on the storm," Wadlow said.

PHOTO: It’s time for fishermen to get out of the seas as fast as possible! Look at these predicted wave heights for Friday night and Saturday! Waves over 50ft are very possible from this storm.
It’s time for fishermen to get out of the seas as fast as possible! Look at these predicted wave heights for Friday night and Saturday! Waves over 50ft are very possible from this storm. Very strong winds, up to hurricane force, are also possible for the western Aleutian Islands.
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Jeremy Zidek, from Alaska's division of homeland security and emergency management, has warned communities about possible weather dangers along western Alaska, including many native tribes and the Alaska Village Council Presidents.

PHOTO: Remnants of what was once “Super Typhoon Nuri” in the West Pacific has now transformed into an extratropical storm as it moves northeast towards Alaska.
Remnants of what was once “Super Typhoon Nuri” in the West Pacific has now transformed into an extratropical storm as it moves northeast towards Alaska. The storm will undergo RAPID INTENSIFICATION as it moves into the Bering Sea. Above is the European Model which is predicting for the lowest pressure to drop below 925mb. If this happens it will break the record of the strongest extratropical storm in the Bering Sea since October of 1977. In general, the lower the pressure, the stronger the storm.
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"Because they are small, remote communities, they are in tune with the weather and folks are taking precautions and taking steps to protect people in those communities," Zidek said.

Zidek said emergency services generally don’t warn people to evacuate these small communities, because the distances to travel may cause greater dangers than taking shelter in place.

"This is a normal way we go about handling these storms in Alaska," he said.

In many of these small communities, the local school is the hub.

"People will go up to the school, which is normally built on higher ground with backup systems. In some communities of maybe 120 people can fit in the school and they are a tight-knit community," Zidek said.

PHOTO: Mount Moffett on Adak Island, part of the Aleutian Island chain in Alaska, May 15, 2014.
Mount Moffett on Adak Island, part of the Aleutian Island chain in Alaska, May 15, 2014.
Brian Hoffman/Flickr

Chris Plaisance of seafood company UniSea Inc., said his colleagues in the city of Unalaska, Alaska, near Dutch Harbor are protected by nearby mountains.

"We should not experience winds much more than 40 miles per hour to hit this weekend. It sounds like the islands that are farther west will take the brunt of the storm," he said.

Clarification: Alaska is preparing for remnants of Typhoon Nuri. The system is no longer a typhoon.

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