At around 10:30 on Wednesday night, the alarm bells went off, and people across Alaska’s southern coast made a bee-line for higher ground. An 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck the interface between the subducting Pacific and overriding North American plates. This interface is known as the Aleutian Megathrust,and it is a very active seismic region. In fact, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake hit the area almost a year ago exactly.
A tsunami warning was immediately issued for coastal communities, but luckily incoming waves never reached heights over a 1/4 meter, and the warning was lifted a little over two hours later.
This was the first 8.0+ earthquake to hit the United States in 50 years. In the 12 hours after the initial quake, the area received 140 aftershocks, with the largest being a 6.1. In 1938, the same area experienced an 8.3 magnitude shaker.
Interestingly, Tsunami Warning is Priority #1 on the National Weather Service priority list. One would hope that Nuclear Power Plant Meltdown is higher on a different agency’s list.
For the past 4-5 days, I’ve been amused by the local weather forecast. Monday and Tuesday of this week have been drawing a lot of attention for a coming “heat wave”. The extended forecast even had a sizzling HOT! for the two days, complete with an image of a blazing Sun and bright red heat waves radiating up from it. Weather forecasters couldn’t contain their excitement.
The forecast calls for a high of 82F degrees on both days.
Quite the scorcher.
On Friday, Fairbanks saw a high of 80 degrees for the 11th time this season, which historically, is the average number for a summer. In 2020, Fairbanks had only three days where we hit 80F for the entire season.
It should be noted that Anchorage residents have also been complaining about the heat. They saw a high of 78F on Saturday, and people were scrambling up into the Chugach Mountains to find snow. Anchorage hit 80F on Sunday, which was the third day in a row for them having a record high temp. In the past 70 years, Anchorage has seen 80F degrees only 37 times.
Color code depicts wind speed; Graphic credit: TropicalTidbits.com
A large storm is barreling into Western Alaska this week. Heavy rain and strong wind is expected. Gusts of 65-80 mph are possible.
Currently, the vast majority of Western Alaska is devoid of snow. The entire western coast has no sea ice. The ice would normally offer some protection from coastal erosion. The high winds will certainly set back any sea ice growth.
Gale force winds are expected to continue in the impacted areas through Wednesday.