Chena River sees massive ice jam at Nordale Road

Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 5:01 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Chena River is currently seeing an ice jam that runs at least a quarter mile up the river.

“We hope that when it releases, all the ice will just make its way down the river,” said Scott Berg, Meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

This week has seen ice jams appear at multiple points along the river, some near construction sites. “They were able to knock those around, I guess, with some equipment to get those moving on, by the construction crews because construction is kind of holding it back more than normal,” Berg said.

Luckily, the jam on Nordale hasn’t stopped the river’s flow. According to Berg, “If the ice is rather thick, it’ll hit the bottom of the river, it’ll get stuck, other pieces will get backed up behind it and it will cause a dam, and that will back the water up in the river.”

Berg went on to add, “With the water backing up, it gets into some of the sloughs that are behind the ice jam. It can make it into some of the sloughs that are no longer sloughs, that don’t generally have water running in them - so they make it into yards and places like that. Any low spot, the water is going to try to find.”

The length of ice jam season varies year by year, according to Berg. “It really all depends on what the temperatures are doing. We’ve seen them last into June. We’ve seen them, most of them gone by the middle of May, or even the first of May.”

Berg concluded by saying that when the ice will finally break loose is anybody’s guess.

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