The remnants of Typhoon Merbock have become a strong extratropical cyclone and is slamming in to Alaska today … here’s the GFS overlay showing the structure of the storm:
Alaska is pretty far north (duh). What that means is that the geosynchronous satellites (GOES – Geosynchronous Orbit Environmental Satellites) we rely on for near-instantaneous weather pictures are distorted since they are over the equator, and are looking at the state at a steep angle. Here is what the view from the GOES West satellite looks like right now …
Fortunately there is another family of satellites that is in a lower orbit and passes over the poles. These satellites, the NOAA Polar Operational Orbiting Satellites (POES) track over every point on the earth twice a day, and more frequently near the poles since they pass over each pole every 90 minutes. They give us a more overhead view. Here is the Alaska storm from NOAA-20, with a GFS forecast wind on top … notice the “swath” of the image as the satellite moves from north to south, and you can see the edges are a bit smeared since it is at a lower altitude.
There are also a set of NEXRAD radars across the state that are the same model we have down here in the lower 48. Here’s the view from Nome, which is closest to the storm center:
The west coast of Alaska is getting pounded right now with near hurricane force winds, 50 foot waves, storm surge, and rain. Conditions will be bad for a couple of days.