Opening Statement of Chairman Ted Stevens
Disaster Prevention and Prediction Subcommittee Hearing on Winter Storms
March 1, 2006
Thank you very much Senator. I do appreciate your holding this hearing. If the Senate wasn’t in session I would have preferred to hold this hearing in Mayor Michels’ hometown. Unfortunantly, the Weather Bureau has just put out a blizzard warning, Mayor, I assume you know, it is in effect until 6:00 a.m. tomorrow. It is for Nome and the surrounding areas. Current weather there is a wind chill of minus 29, winds are at 38 miles per hour already from the East. That is not good news Senator because in just two days one of my favorite activities in Nome will start celebrating; this is a tough time to have this kind of weather when the Iditarod is underway. It is the last great race, a great sporting event, we would love to have you come up and witness it. The end of it is at Mayor Michels home, and it was of course the target for the serum that was delivered by dogsled back in 1925.
I do thank you Denise for coming up, coming down here rather and being on the Hill to testify. I think this is the kind of hearing we should have more often.
By the way Mr. Chairman, there is the warning that came out of the Fairbanks weather service. Now, you have to realize that Fairbanks is 900 miles away at least. That is where our weather station is that deals with storms off that part of the coast if I am correct Dr. Uccellini.
I brought with me some of the typical storms of the past, the Bering Sea storm of 2004 compared to Hurricane Andrew, you can see where it came off of the Russian Peninsula, the Kamchatka area and came across to Alaska. The biggest storm in September of this past year, a really beautiful picture of what happens in the North Pacific when there is a monstrous storm of this type. And we also have some of the photographs of what happened to Nome in October of 2004. This is one of the area maps that I like to show people – it shows how Alaska stretches across the whole of the United States but when you look at it we have three areas of weather forecasting areas of responsibility and that shows you how far away they really are. In the days gone by we had the weather offices in almost every area of the state.
This is in the Ninilchik flood on the Kenai Peninsula. I was actually down there at that time in 2002. It took out that bridge over the Ninilchik River.
What I am telling you is that these are the comparisons – this is a map prepared by NOAA showing a comparison of the number of storms that have the United States and the number that have hit Alaska on an annual basis.
This is the Barrow storm of 2000, again, one of the most difficult storms that they have had in the Arctic in history.
I do think it is an area that should be studied more and that we should have more information about because of its impact on the overall national weather systems.
Witness Panel 1
The Honorable Denise MichelsMayorCity of Nome
Dr. Louis UccelliniDirector, National Center for Environmental PredictionNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration