Early breakup occurs along Yukon River

Ice is going out early along the Yukon River. Flooding has so far not been an issue.

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The upper Yukon River broke up at Dawson City April 23rd. National Weather Service hydrologist Ed Plumb says the date is a new early ice out record.

”Beat the previous record by five days which is pretty impressive,” Plumb said. “Dawson’s had observations of ice breakup since 1896 so they have a pretty good period of record there in Dawson.”

The break up front is pushing downriver, with action at Eagle reported Monday night by local resident Anne Millard last night.

”The river moved in front town at about 8:15,” Millard said.

April 25th ties the early break up record at Eagle set in 1940 and previously matched in 1990. Millard reported the Yukon was flowing bank to bank with ice and water at Eagle this morning, but no flooding. Ice jam flooding has not been an issue on Alaska rivers so far this spring, and Plumb says gradually warming weather has minimized the chance for problems.

”We’re definitely into what we call thermal breakup,” said Plumb. “The snow’s melted off the ice, and the ice is rotting in place and becoming very weak so we’re not expecting any severe ice jams to form.”

Plumb notes that breakup of the Kuskokwim River is complete with all sites reporting earlier than normal ice out dates.


Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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