KYUK AM

Environment

Environmental stories in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.

The National Weather Service in Anchorage has issued a flood warning on the Kuskokwim River for the village of Tuluksak. Water levels have risen 6 feet since 7 a.m. on Tuesday morning and are continuing to rise rapidly due to an ice jam downstream. Water levels have spilled over the bank and are flooding the village's main road and threatening homes and low lying areas of the village. Residents are relocating due to imminent flooding at this time. The flood warning remains in effect until 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation

State agencies are recommending no subsistence activities in fuel-contaminated areas around the village of Scammon Bay until breakup is complete. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and the state Department of Health and Social Services have issued a community advisory and posted fact sheets around the town with this information.

National Weather Service

Bethel is celebrating its Breakup Bash tonight; boats are already cruising the river between Bethel and Kwethluk; and more boats are expected to head out this weekend. But that does not mean that breakup is over. The water Bethel is seeing is just one open segment of a river still full of significant ice cover.

A stretch of the Kuskokwim River between Kwethluk and Akiak, posted on May 4, 2018. Breakup is unfolding more slowly this year due to milder temperatures.
Courtesy of Mike Riley.

The Kuskokwim River should be mostly clear within the next two weeks, but in the meantime, residents should be careful.

The Kuskokwim River downstream of Kalskag on May 2, 2018. Kalskag was placed under a flood watch by the National Weather Service on Wednesday afternoon after the ice began to shift.
National Weather Service

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Kuskokwim River ice remains jammed in the Middle River at Birch Crossing. There the Kuskowkim makes a sharp 100-degree bend, where ice gets trapped every year.

Jumbled ice flows past Aniak on May 1, 2018.
National Weather Service, Alaska, River Watch

Aniak is under a flood advisory and low-lying areas near the barge and gravel pit are under a few inches of water. The ice in the Upper Kuskokwim River moved past the village this morning, and with a risk of flood, the school canceled classes.

The Kuskokwim River will soon have eyes in the sky to monitor breakup and issue updates on river conditions. The NOAA River Watch team is scheduled to launch from Aniak on Tuesday morning. The crew will fly upstream and begin sharing what it sees.

Sheets of thin, rotten Kuskokwim River ice have beached near Napaimute on April 30, 2018. The white marks on the ice pick sit 12 inches apart.
Mark Leary / Native Village of Napaimute

Breakup along the Upper Kuskokwim River is happening in sections rather than a crashing cascade from the headwaters. The river by Red Devil and Napaimute is open, but between those villages, ice is jammed by Crooked Creek and Georgetown. From Chuathbaluk downriver, the ice is holding for now.


Screenshot of the cover page of the Donlin Gold final environmental impact statement. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers published the document on April 27, 2018 and the public has 30 days to submit comments.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Correction:

The Final Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Donlin Gold project released on Friday does not have a 30-day public comment period, as KYUK originally reported. In fact, there is no public comment period for the entire document. Instead, the public has 30 days to comment on a section of it.

The Kuksokwim River near Napaimute is breaking up and forming open leads. It's pictured here on April 27, 2018.
Mark Leary

Search and Rescue groups along the Kuskokwim River continue warning travelers to stay off the river ice. It’s turning to needles or opening into leads and has become too dangerous to cross.

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