If like me one of the first news headlines you saw this morning was about the life-threatening storm of epic magnitude bearing down on Alaska, you probably wanted to know more, so here’s the low-down.

According to the National Weather Service, a major Bering Sea Storm is bearing down on Western Alaska with a mix of strong winds, high seas, blizzard conditions, major coastal flooding, and the potential to cause widespread damage.

This is expected to be one of the most severe Bering Sea storms on record, forecast to have sustained winds of 80 mph over an area the size of Colorado and produce storm surge effects on the Alaskan coast 8 to 10 feet above normal water levels. The Alaskan city of Nome is in its path.

In a special weather statement issued yesterday the NWS Fairbanks office says:

A powerful and extremely dangerous storm of near record or record magnitude is bearing down on the west coast of Alaska. At 9 AM this morning the storm center was located about 600 miles southwest of St Lawrence Island. The storm is forecast to move rapidly northeast today and tonight with the center moving across the Chukotsk Peninsula tonight.”

The Weather Matrix blog at Accuweather.com cites NWS saying that this storm is comparable to the November 11-12, 1974, Bering Sea storm that remains the most severe in Nome in 113 years of record keeping.

Major differences between the 1974 storm and this storm include the fact that tides were much greater in the 1974 storm. However, sea ice extent is currently much lower than it was in 1974, thus providing no protection along the coast and greater fetch, the NWS says.

Check out I.I.I. facts and stats on U.S. catastrophes.