Cold weather slows winter break up

Unusually cold temperatures across the interior this week are slowing break up. The National Weather Service reported a low of four below zero Tuesday morning at Eagle, where longtime resident John Borg keeps an eye on the Yukon River.

Listen now

”With temperatures like we have now, there isn’t much happening,” Borg said.

Records show a gradual trend over the last hundred plus years toward earlier break ups at Eagle. Last year the ice went out on April 26th, one of the earliest dates on record, but Borg anticipates a more normal early May time frame this year, pointing to recent river ice thickness measurements.

”USGS (United States Geological Survey) has been here and they found ice anywhere from four feet to five and a half,” Borg said.

The 5.5-foot ice measurement is the 3rd thickest ever recorded at Eagle, but Borg suspects it represents an atypical section of ice, and he said the other measurements “have not been unusual at all.”

Borg said silt blown onto the river has helped melt overlying snow, but it’s going to take warmer weather to thin the ice.

”You oughta have warm days with the water pooling up and soaking in and be getting the honeycomb,” Borg said. “The ice will deteriorate to a certain degree and assist in making the ice break a little easier.”

Borg said there’s still between 10 and 18 inches of snow on the ground in the area, a late season tally that could send a surge of water onto the river ice if there’s an abrupt melt off. That’s what happened in 2009, when Eagle suffered a devastating ice jam caused flood in early May.