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Ignacio May Unleash Stormy Conditions in Alaska, British Columbia

By By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather.com senior meteorologist.
September 05, 2015, 10:01:11 AM EDT

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Steering winds could take Ignacio, currently a post-tropical cyclone, into the Alaskan Panhandle or British Columbia during the middle days of next week.

Ignacio became a post-tropical cyclone Friday night. However, a part of the storm system will survive over the cooler waters.

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Regardless of the strength of the system when it reaches the Alaska/British Columbia coast, there will be impacts.

"A round of heavy rain, gusty winds and rough seas will occur, most likely spanning Tuesday into Wednesday," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson said. "Ignacio could be a problem for fishing, shipping and cruise interests in the region."


Areas from Yakutat to Juneau and Ketchikan, Alaska, to as far south as Prince Rupert, British Columbia, should monitor the storm system.

After Ignacio gets pulled northward into the Labor Day weekend, it will turn eastward by early next week.

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According to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski, "Ignacio will become part of the storm train stretching along the northern rim of the Pacific Ocean."

Whether or not Ignacio merges with one of the other storms in the train will determine its intensity when it reaches southeastern Alaska and neighboring British Columbia.

"If Ignacio were to merge with another storm system, impacts could be severe along a small part of the coast and into the coastal ranges," Pydynowski said. "If it remains a separate entity, less severe winds and more strung-out rainfall could occur in the region."

The storm could especially be a problem for cruise ships which travel north-south in the region.

"Swells will approach from the west and could cause considerable rocking motion on some vessels," Anderson said.

People traveling on vessels in these waters during the first part of next week may want to bring along medication for sea sickness.

In terms of expired typhoons and hurricanes reaching southern Alaska, British Columbia and Washington, remnant tropical systems from the western Pacific occur more often than the central Pacific.

"Remnant systems from the central Pacific are extremely rare when compared to the western Pacific," Anderson said.

This is due to a warm current flowing northeastward in the western Pacific and a typical fast flow of air stretching from eastern Asia to southern Alaska. Both tend to move the systems along quickly and slow down their total breakdown.

Systems moving up from the central Pacific tend to move more slowly and relatively spend more time over cooler waters.

Vongfong (2014), Roke (2011) and Freda (1962) are but a few examples of former typhoons reaching the upper Pacific coast. Freda caused fatalities, widespread power outages and nearly $600 million (Canadian) in damage to British Columbia. Roke produced wind gusts to 105 mph (170 km/h) on Solander Island, British Columbia.

Ana from 2014 is an example of a system from the central Pacific that merged with a non-tropical storm and hit the British Columbia and Washington coasts with drenching rain and flooding problems.

"A cycle of warmer-than-average waters off the coast of southern Alaska and British Columbia this year could play a role in keeping Ignacio more organized as it approaches," Anderson said.

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