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Bering Sea storm lashes Alaska coast (video)

Bering Sea storm: An 'epic' storm with hurricane-force winds tore roofs off buildings in Nome, Alaska, Wednesday. No one was injured or killed in the unusually strong Bering Sea storm.

A passenger - stranded by rare monster storm - sleeps at the airport in Achorage, Alaska, after some flights Tuesday and Wednesday were cancelled.

REUTERS/Nathaniel Wilder

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A storm forecast to be one of the worst on record in Alaska lashed the state's western coastline Wednesday, tearing roofs off buildings and pushing water and debris into communities, authorities said.

The storm, which began hitting Alaska late on Tuesday after building over the North Pacific Ocean, brought winds measured at up to 89 miles per hour and flooded parts of some Native villages along the coastline.

There were no reports of deaths or injuries as of Wednesday evening, and damage tallied so far was caused largely by wind and included reports of tin roofs flying off and power lines down, authorities said.

``This is a storm of epic proportions, as it's being described,'' said Jeff Osiensky, a meteorologist and regional warning coordinator for the National Weather Service. ``This is kind of ratcheted up to a level much higher than we've been accustomed to.''

``I think this would probably be about a Category 3-type hurricane if we were to do some sort of a similar comparison,'' he said. ``It's on the line of a pretty destructive hurricane.''

Category 3 hurricanes on the Saffir-Simpson scale, which have sustained winds exceeding 111 miles per hour, can cause devastating damage to homes, buildings and utilities.

Osiensky said that by Wednesday evening wind speeds were diminishing but water levels would remain high and new surges of floodwaters were expected.

Most of western Alaska is at high risk, from the Yupik Eskimo community of Bethel in the Yukon-Kuskowim delta to the Inupiat Eskimo village of Wainwright on the North Slope, according to the National Weather Service.

But one of the hardest-hit areas so far has been Nome, a former Gold Rush boomtown famous as the end of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, and surrounding villages.


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