Kuskokwim River flood waters threaten Upper Kalskag power plant

The Kuskokwim River ice cleared in front of Aniak on May 1. (Photo courtesy Dave Cannon)

An ice jam just below Upper Kalskag is sending rapidly-rising water toward the village’s power plant.

The National Weather Service is flying aerial surveys of the Kuskokwim River during the day and hosting nightly river condition teleconferences. During the May 2 conference call, Dwayne Hoffman, Native Village of Upper Kalskag transportation manager, said that the water had crept close to the gate to the power plant.

Hoffman estimated that the water would have to rise another 2 or 3 feet before the power plant shut down.

“We’re monitoring as much as we can throughout the night,” Hoffman said.

The water is also rising closer to the Upper Kalskag runway. Hoffman said that residents living at one end are already seeing water near their houses and are monitoring levels.

Meanwhile, the ice jam just below Napaimute remains solid. Further downstream, the ice has moved out of Aniak. Residents are reporting that the water levels have dropped a few feet, but are still higher than during previous breakups.

Celine Van Breukelen, a hydrologist with the weather service, flew over the Kuskokwim River on May 2. She noticed water flooding the tundra around Aniak.

“I am very concerned about the flood threat for Aniak,” Van Breukelen said.

Should the ice jam below Napaimute release quickly, it could send more high water down to Aniak and spark flooding.

The ice in front of McGrath has cleared and is heading down the Kuskokwim River. Sleetmute reported high water levels on May 2 after the level dropped at least 3 feet over the evening of May 1.

The weather service plans to head out on May 3 to check river breakup conditions along the Kuskokwim River.


More Kuskokwim flood coverage from KYUK

Villages brace for flooding as ice moves down Kuskokwim River
Communities up and down the Kuskokwim River have already started preparing for flooding. KYUK contacted six communities from Chuathbaluk down to Kwethluk. (Read more)

As waters rose, Elders tied boat to cabin and climbed inside until helicopter arrived
Pararescuers airlifted two Elders from the site of their flooded cabin Thursday night, as water in the swollen Kuskokwim River rose behind an ice jam. (Read more)

As the threat of ice jams looms over the Kuskokwim, an old tradition remembered
Longtime residents of the Kuskokwim River and the National Weather Service are expecting ice jams and flooding this breakup. To reduce the risk of both, some residents have floated the idea of “sanding” the river. (Read more)

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