The 'Arctic Hurricane' that slammed into Alaska and Siberia a couple of days ago caused wide- spread damage and presumably cost one person his life. Luckily the storm didn't top the 1974 record storm, but still. As the Associated Press reported: Emergency responders called the storm an epic event that displaced residents, flooded the shoreline, ripped up roofs and knocked out power in many villages.
Jeff Masters from Weather Underground has more details:
The most powerful storm to affect the Bering Sea coast of Alaska since 1974 is slowly winding down today, after pounding Alaska's west coast and Eastern Siberia with hurricane-force winds, a destructive storm surge more than 8 feet high, waves up to 40 feet high, and heavy snow. The highest wind gust recorded during the storm, 89 mph, was at Wales at the western tip of the Seward Peninsula, which forms the U.S. side of the Bering Strait.
A storm surge of 8.6 feet hit Nome, Alaska near 9 pm EST last night, pushed inland by sustained winds that reached 45 mph, gusting to 61 mph. Large waves on top of the surge encrusted with sea ice battered the coast, causing extensive damage and coastal flooding. Significant wave heights at the Bering Sea buoy north of the Aleutian Islands reached 40 feet during the peak of the storm. The last time Nome, Alaska saw a storm this strong was November 11 - 12 1974, when the city experienced sustained winds of 46 mph with gusts to 69 mph, a pressure that bottomed out at 969 mb, and a storm surge of 13 feet. The center of yesterday's storm moved ashore over eastern Siberia near 12 UTC with a central pressure of 945 mb, and later bottomed out with a pressure of 943 mb. The storm's central pressure had risen to 958 mb this morning, with the center of the storm now located north of Siberia over the Arctic.
I'm sure we'll hear what the erosional effects on the coasts have been, but right now I'm primarily interested in the effects on the sea ice. It appears they were quite substantial. I've made an animation of sea ice concentration maps from Uni Bremen (who have switched from the defunct AMSR-E sensor to the SSMIS instrument aboard the DMSP satellites) from the past week:
As we can see, the fierce winds compacted the sea ice significantly in the Chukchi Sea. The event shows up very clearly on the regional area and extent maps from Cryosphere Today and MASIE respectively:
And naturally this has also impacted various extent and area graphs for the entire Arctic. In fact, it looks as though the storm helped achieve the new lowest maximum record for global sea ice area I reported on yesterday.
Freezing is taking over again and soon it'll be as if nothing has happened. I think the main effect of this storm has been compaction of the sea ice. Those big winds and waves must have caused some significant ridging and rafting, meaning we could well have some thicker first year ice in that part of the Arctic at the end of this winter.
In the past two seasons thicker multiyear ice that was transported to the Beaufort, Chukchi and East Siberian Seas during winter managed to slow down warmer waters eating their way into the pack long enough for freezing temperatures to take over and prevent some serious ice losses.
If this storm indirectly has a similar influence on the final shape of the ice pack at the end of the 2012 melting season, remains to be seen.