Meltwater flooding threatens several Yukon River communities
Porcupine, Yukon rivers both ‘running very high,’ prompting downriver flooding, ice-jam warnings
The Yukon River ice that jammed and flooded communities in the eastern Interior last week has melted or been swept downstream. But now the river’s water level is rising around its confluence with the snowmelt-swollen Porcupine River at Fort Yukon, increasing the risk of flooding downstream.
Meltwater from last winter’s heavy snow in higher elevations around the eastern Interior is pouring into the Porcupine River, creating a flood risk where it dumps into the mighty Yukon.
“The Porcupine River, which dumps into the Yukon River there right at Fort Yukon, is still running very high,” said Fairbanks National Weather Service lead meteorologist Christopher Cox. He says that goes for both the Porcupine and Yukon.
“The whole Yukon River, for the most part, is still running pretty high, especially downriver of Fort Yukon,” he said in a Thursday afternoon interview
That’s why the Alaska-Pacific River Forecast Center has issued a flood warning for Fort Yukon and Stevens Village, about a hundred miles downriver. But a couple of hundred miles farther downstream, the water level has fallen to near-normal.
“The water has leveled-out there at Galena and starting to slowly come down there,” Cox said.
So the River Forecast Center has issued a flood advisory for Galena, along with Koyukuk and Nulato. But as the Yukon bends to the west farther downstream, closer to its delta on the Bering Sea, the water is running high.
“Mountain Village, Pilot Point, Russian Mission -- we have flood warnings out for those guys and pretty much most of the delta,” Cox said.
The National Weather Service says flooding in that area is more likely to be caused by ice jams. The warning is in effect through this afternoon. But forecasters say residents of those communities should be prepared for a long period of high water even after the ice jams release.