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Powerful Bering Sea storm lashing Alaska

High winds and surging waves pummeled Alaska’s western coast Wednesday, churning the Bering Sea and forcing residents of Nome and isolated native villages to seek higher ground inland.

“We do have some reports of buildings losing roofs in the Nome area,” said meteorologist Scott Berg at the National Weather Service in Fairbanks. “Also water at the base of buildings in Nome.”

Communications officer Zane Brown said the height of snow and hurricane-force winds hit at about 2 a.m. He said a voluntary evacuation has moved residents from beachfront businesses and homes to shelters at a community center and a church.

The last time forecasters saw something similar was in November 1974, when Nome took the brunt of another storm. That sea surge measured more than 13 feet, pushing beach driftwood above the level of the previous storm of its type in 1913.

Officials also are concerned for Alaska Natives in the 18 villages in the region.