Yukon River Causing Flooding In Galena

National Weather Service Photo.
National Weather Service Photo.

The Yukon river is flooding in Galena as an ice jam at a notorious bend called Bishop’s Rock is keeping water high near Galena.

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Ed Plumb is a hydrologist with the National Weather Service. He’s in Galena and says the water started coming up rapidly this afternoon.

“Old town which is right along the river is all under water and just estimating from the air it looks like several feet of water in most of the buildings or more,” Plumb said. “And then the sections of new town or uptown, just up river, there’s a lot of sections of town that are cut off because roads are washed out and a lot of, just from the air, we could see a lot of buildings, homes, residences under water, or with water in them.”

Plumb says the power is off in Galena, but it was not clear if city officials had shut it off or it had blown out. He says the Yukon is low farther down river from the jam at Bishop’s Rock.

“Ice is starting to kind of shift and move from Koyukuk down to Nulato and we have reports that even down to Kaltag ice is shifting so that could be a good thing for those communities when this ice jam does break, if the ice down river has shifted and moved some,” Plumb said.

NWS hydrologist David Streubel says farther to the Northwest, there is a flood warning for Hughes on the Koyukuk River.

“Where the ice jammed up this morning at 3 a.m. They subsequently had some minor flooding during the morning hours and that as of around noon, the water was dropping a little bit at Hughes. Also the village of Buckland on the Buckland river has an ice jam where minor flooding is occurring and that ice could cause more problems for Buckland over the next two days as it’s usually a slower process for the ice to go out,” Streubel said.

Streubel says the rapid warming conditions could create flooding concerns for other areas of the state this week, including Southcentral Alaska.

Lori Townsend is the news director and senior host for Alaska Public Media. You can send her program ideas for Talk of Alaska and Alaska Insight at ltownsend@alaskapublic.org or call 907-350-2058.

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