A massive cyclone hammered northwestern Alaska over the weekend, sweeping north through the Bering Strait and flooding coastal communities following the worst storm in at least 50 years. The “meteorologically perfect storm,” per the Washington Post, was a “worst-case scenario,” NWS climatologist Brian Brettschneider told Alaska Public Media.

Ocean levels in Nome were more than 9 feet above normal early Saturday with the sea pushed onshore by winds gusting over 70 mph for 11 hours. Water levels in nearby Golovin were expected to hit as much as 13 feet above high tide. Thousands were without electricity, and the flooding forced evacuation of several coastal communities.

“It’s just a lake everywhere,” Job Hale of Napakiak, told APM. Extratropical storms hitting “early” in the season are especially dangerous compared to those that occur later in the year  because there is not yet any coastal sea ice to buffer coastal communities.  (Washington Post $, Alaska Public Media, Anchorage Daily News, Alaska Public Media, AP, AP, USA Today, CBS, New York Times $, Insider, CNN, New York Times $, Today Show, Alaska Public Media, Washington Post $, New York Times $, ABC; Climate Signals background: Storm surge, Cyclonic storms)