'Epic' storm threatens western Alaska

OKLAHOMA CITY, Nov. 8 (UPI) -- Denizens of western Alaska were warned by weather forecasters to brace for a wintry wallop Wednesday.

"This will be an extremely dangerous and life-threatening storm of an epic magnitude rarely experienced," the National Weather Service said.


The weather service said the "very strong storm" was moving rapidly northeastward in the western Bering Sea Tuesday evening and was expected to move north over the far eastern part of Russia Wednesday.

Forecasters said a storm warning would be in effect through Tuesday evening and a heavy freezing spray warning through Wednesday morning. A hurricane force wind warning was expected to remain in effect through Wednesday afternoon.

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The weather center said the storm is "one of the most severe Bering Sea storms on record and had already generated 28- to 35-foot seas Tuesday. Wind gusts as strong as 75 mph were expected to pound Alaskan coastal towns, including Nome, Kivalina and Kotzebue, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Oklahoma State University Extension Test Center near Tipton, Okla., was destroyed Monday by storms that produced at least one tornado, officials said.

No one was in the building at the time, the emergency manager for Tillman County told KOCO-TV, Oklahoma City.

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At least three other structures were damaged in the storm. A family was trapped in their cellar when their farmhouse southeast of Tipton was damaged. They had to be rescued by emergency crews, The Oklahoman reported.

A tornado touched down near the Texas state line and moved northeast across the Wichita Mountain Refuge and toward the Fort Cobb reservoir, the newspaper said. The National Weather Service said it is continuing to investigate reports from Monday's storm and several more tornado confirmations are likely.

An airport in Washita County recorded winds of 92 mph and gusts up to 60 mph were reported in several areas of the county, the NWS reported. Flooding was reported in Sulphur, Okla., and water was rising over bridges in the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, emergency management officials said.

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