US’ Alaska braces for worst storm in decade

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Alaska was battening down Friday for what is slated to be the US state’s worst storm in more than a decade, as the remnants of Typhoon Merbok barreled through the Bering Sea, threatening major flooding and hurricane-force winds.

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Residents on Alaska’s western coast were urged to brace for potentially the “worst coastal flooding in nearly 50 years,” the National Weather Service (NWS) warned in a tweet on Thursday.

Merbok, now a tropical storm, is expected to slam into the northern-most US state on Friday, “bringing wave heights up to 48 ft (14 meters), wind gusts to 90 mph (140 kilometers per hour), and coastal floods exceeding 12 ft” through the weekend, the NWS said.

Authorities have said the storm damage could exceed that of the Bering Sea Superstorm, which hit the state with flooding and power outages in 2011.

“This is likely going to be the strongest storm in over a decade, with impacts likely rivaling impacts we saw in 2011 from what's referred to as the Bering Sea Superstorm,” Jonathan Chriest, a meteorologist with the weather service in Alaska's second-largest city Fairbanks, told CNN.

Rick Thoman, a weather specialist at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, warned in a tweet of a “near worst case coastal flooding scenario.”

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