Kuskokwim Mushes Out, No Major Flooding

by Daysha Eaton on May 5, 2014

Ice floating down the Kuskokwim River at Bethel, AK. By Daysha Eaton

Ice floating down the Kuskokwim River at Bethel, AK. By Daysha Eaton

The Kuskokwim River breakup went smoothly this year with no major flooding. The official time for breakup in Bethel was 5pm Friday. River Watch Program officials are calling it a thermal breakup, or mush out.

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Ice passes by Bethel, AK on Sunday, May 4, 2014. - By Daysha Eaton

Ice passes by Bethel, AK on Sunday, May 4, 2014. – By Daysha Eaton

National Weather Service Hydrologist Celine Van Breukelen says it couldn’t have gone better.

“The good news is, it seems like breakup has gone very well, that’s it’s really mushed out before the ice had a chance to move and that ice was able to move past Bethel, Napaskiak, Napakiak, really without incident.”

Officials issued a flood warning for Red Devil last week and flood watches for villages above Bethel over the weekend, as a precaution. But Van Breukelen says no major flooding was reported.

“We’re going to touch base with some of the communities upstream just to make sure that the ice flushed out overnight and that they did not have any sort of flooding issues. But barring any unforeseen circumstances, we think that River Watch is coming to a close on the lower Kusko.

This is one of the least eventful breakups that River Watch officials have seen in years on the Kuskokwim, Van Breukelen. And it came earlier than usual.

In Bethel, the ice left 27 days earlier than last year. There’s still no winner of the Kuskokwim Ice Classic, a local contest and fundraiser where people guess when the river will breakup. That’s because workers were caught off guard by the early breakup and have not compiled all of the guesses yet. The winner is expected to be announced midweek.

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