Interior Alaska on alert for potential flooding this spring

Published: May. 13, 2023 at 12:49 PM AKDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Residents of Interior Alaska are advised to keep an eye out for potential flooding over the next couple of weeks.

Winter in Fairbanks held on longer than usual this year, with colder-than-average temperatures being seen in the region for much of April.

Now, with temperatures rising quickly, the State of Alaska is advising citizens to be prepared in the case of flooding. This year’s break-up season, according to the state’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM), shows above-average flood potential.

Large amounts of snow and snowpack are being seen in the hills. This, combined with the ice on the rivers not having a chance to degrade, means a large amount of water is expected to enter the river system soon. Where and when a flood strikes can be hard to predict.

According to Jeremy Zidek, Public Information Officer with DHSEM, “The bottom line is we really don’t know where it’s going to flood. We look at the conditions and work with the National Weather Service River Forecast Center, and they do a great job looking at all of the data, but when it comes down to it, we’re not really sure where it’s going to flood, and that’s why River Watch is out there, to get eyes on the ice, make evaluations on a day-to-day basis and warn communities about the conditions that they see.”

River Watch involves someone with Homeland Security and a hydrologist with the National Weather Service flying over the rivers to spot potential flood sites and alert communities.

The Yukon River is already beginning to see activity, with an ice jam formed near the community of Eagle.

A Flood Watch is in place for the region, including Tok, until Sunday at noon.

Homes and communities near rivers are more likely to be at risk for flood damage.

Those living in areas under possible threat of flooding are urged to take precautions and to make plans for evacuation in advance. “They can do things like prepare themselves, get an emergency kit together, a go kit, putting together their critical documents, moving boats and other vehicles away from the river, talking to their family about what they’re going to do and where they can go if flooding does occur so everyone has a good understanding,” Zidek explained.

Emergency kits should include, among other things, food, water and medication if needed.

Once their households are prepared, residents can then talk with their community about preparing shelters and resources if necessary.

Zidek says predictions are no guarantee whether a flood will develop or not. Alaskans are advised to keep an eye on websites for the National Weather Service’s River Forecast and the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.