Forecasters warn of flooding and avalanches in Juneau as atmospheric river passes over Southeast Alaska

The full service Capital Service gas station in downtown on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, in Juneau, Alaska. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/KTOO)

An atmospheric river is currently passing over Southeast Alaska and the rain doesn’t show any signs of letting up for Juneau residents this weekend. Showers will be especially heavy from Saturday night through Sunday morning with three to five inches falling in that time.

Kimberly Vaughan with the National Weather Service in Juneau said there’s a flood watch in effect for the area through Saturday night due to the heavy rain and increased snowmelt.

“We’re already seeing a lot of standing water on roadways and other surfaces due to poor drainages or blocked drainages from the cold weather and ice and snow that we’ve had so far this winter,” Vaughan said.

Excessive runoff could lead to high water levels in creeks and streams. Vaughan said more snowmelt is expected because freezing levels are rising up to 2,000 – 4,000 feet.

The heavy rain on top of new snow in higher elevations is also raising concerns about potential avalanches. Avalanche danger was high Friday and likely to increase, according to an advisory that’s updated daily by Juneau Emergency Programs Manager Tom Mattice.

Mattice said people should avoid the Flume Trail over the weekend and stay out of the gated areas above the Behrends neighborhood. Natural avalanches are likely this weekend and human-caused slides are more than likely.

A little before 3 p.m. on Friday, Mattice reported on social media that there were slides over Behrend’s Avenue and Thane Road. He described both as good news, limiting the potential for bigger slides later. Thane Road remains open.

Daytime temperatures will be in the lower 40s and nighttime temperatures won’t fall much, staying in the upper 30s.

This story has been updated to add information about small avalanches that occurred Friday afternoon.

Bridget Dowd

Local News Reporter

I keep tabs on what’s happening in Juneau’s classrooms for the families they serve and the people who work in them. My goal is to shine a light on both stories of success and the cracks that need to be filled, because I believe a good education is the basis of a strong community.

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