With more holes than usual in Kuskokwim River ice near Bethel, Search and Rescue issues safety warning

There are four open holes near Bethel, the most BSAR volunteer Mark Leary has seen so far during this time of winter. (Image courtesy BSAR)

Travelers need to stay off Straight Slough, which flows into the main Kuskokwim River near Bethel. That’s according to the latest river update from Bethel Search and Rescue. The report says that there are four open holes close to Bethel.

One open hole is on the main river near the upper end of Straight Slough, and is big enough to swallow something the size of the main AC store. BSAR volunteer Mark Leary said that it was the largest open hole he’s seen this close to Bethel at this time of year. Leary said that there are more open holes closer to Bethel this year than there were last year. Last year there was only one, and that was nine miles from Bethel.

BSAR blocked off the lower end of Straight Slough using willows and blue tape, which is used to mark all open holes. Other areas blocked off include an open hole below Joe Pete’s fish camp on the Kuskokwim River, and an area below the Bethel Bluffs. 

The rough ice on the Kuskokwim River is measuring between 18-24 inches thick so far. BSAR says that there is still more work to be done to mark open holes, and that they are looking for volunteers from the general public this weekend.

Previous articleKipnuk the latest village to flood as storms rile the ice-free Bering Sea
Next articleBill would give Alaskans an advisory role in Arctic shipping