Nov 9, 2014 9:47 AM
Alaska storm pushing cold air toward mainland US
The Associated Press
A massive storm expected to help push Arctic air toward the lower 48 states was moving slowly east after blasting parts of Alaska's Aleutian Islands with hurricane-force winds.
The tempest fueled by the remnants of Typhoon Nuri was forecast to play a role in generating a high-pressure system that will allow frigid air to blanket the central plains, starting with eastern Montana and the Dakotas on Sunday. The frigid temperatures are expected to spill south into the central plains on Monday.
The system was centered 220 miles northwest of Adak in the Aleutian chain, David Kochevar, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said early Sunday.
"It's slowly dissipating over the Bering Sea," he said.
Its strongest winds had diminished considerably and were recorded at just 45 mph in Adak and Shemya Island, Kochevar said.
The storm peaked Friday with sustained winds of 70 mph and gusts up to 96 mph on Shemya, forecasters said.
The weakened storm was expected to bring gale-force winds to the Alaska mainland's southwestern coast, typical for this time of year, weather service meteorologist Shaun Baines said.
"The worst conditions were out where there's no people," he said Saturday.
On Shemya Island, 120 civilian contractors staff an early warning radar installation for the U.S. military. Eareckson Air Station on the island 1,500 miles southwest Anchorage saw minor facility damage, Alaskan Command public affairs officer Tommie Baker said.
The corners of a roof were bent back and some dumpsters moved around, but no roof was torn off and the dumpters didn't slam into any vehicles or buildings, Baker said. Workers locked themselves inside to wait out the storm.
Workers had yet to conduct a full assessment of damage around the entire island, Baker said. But workers there are accustomed to extreme weather, including 100-mile winds. The community averages six weather-related lockdowns a year.
The storm surpassed the intensity of 2012's Superstorm Sandy as measured by pressure, but a lack of measuring stations in the remote region means meteorologists didn't have much more data. Sandy caused at least 182 deaths and $65 billion in damage on the East Coast. Nuri, in contrast, hit a sparsely populated region with just a few small communities where people are accustomed to severe weather.
The high-pressure system Nuri will help create is expected to send temperatures plunging across a wide swath of the lower 48 states. High temperatures were forecast to be below freezing on Tuesday across much of Wyoming to Minnesota and parts of Iowa, said Bruce Sullivan of the National Weather Service's prediction center.
The high in Great Falls, Montana, is expected to be 7 degrees, Sullivan said. By Wednesday, high temperatures will struggle to get out of the low 30s in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles, he said.
"Once it gets its momentum going, it's going to keep going south," Sullivan said.