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Interior Rivers Begin To Break Up

Photo by the National Park Service.

Photo by the National Park Service.

Break up is starting to happen on Interior rivers. The Yukon River ice began moving early this morning at Eagle. It jammed and caused some flooding of low lying homes and roads. Six homes and a handful of sheds have been hit by truck size chunks of ice.

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At least three homes have been picked up and moved off of their foundations. 15 miles downriver from Eagle a cabin and a summer home have been completely destroyed, sandwiched between enormous chunks of ice. The water levels receded quickly this morning and the immediate threat to homes appears to be over.

It’s the second largest flood on record after the devastating 2009 river break up. And the National Weather Service is worried snow melt in the mountains could increase the flooding potential again in the coming days.

National Weather Service hydrologist Ed Plumb says additional problems are expected as the break up front progresses downstream.

“The problem now we have is the water is coming down the Yukon and it’s gonna be moving towards the west, where it’s actually been colder, and the ice is a lot stronger because it hasn’t been as warm out west. We got a call from Fort Yukon from our observer this morning, and said the ice is strong, there’s still some snow on the ice and there’s actually some people still riding down in Fort Yukon, and the farther west you go, the stronger the ice is down towards Tanana, Galena and even farther downriver,” Plumb said.

Plumb says colder air moving across the region will slow break up over the weekend, but an expected warm up into the 60’s next week could cause rapid melting and raise the potential for ice jams and flooding. There’s been ice jam flooding on the Tanana River at Salcha, pushing water into a flood prone neighborhood along the Old Richardson Highway.

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