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Aniak placed on flood watch as Kuskokwim breakup continues

The view from Aniak at around 6:00 a.m. on May 2, 2024.
Dave Cannon
The view from Aniak at around 6:00 a.m. on May 2, 2024.

The City of Aniak was placed under ice jam flood watch on Thursday (May 2). National Weather Service officials reported the potential for a jam around 15 miles downriver at Birch Crossing, in effect through Saturday (May 4). Birch Crossing is an area ice often becomes trapped, where the sharp curve of the river hampers the flow of ice.

Officials say the flood watch means residents in the area should stay alert and prepare to move to higher ground if a jam develops.

Reached Thursday afternoon (May 2), one Aniak resident reported that the river level was falling, and that ice started moving on the Kuskokwim in front of town at around 5 p.m., while the slough was moving, but slowly, indicating a potential buildup of ice where it meets the river.

The first RiverWatch flight on May 1 found a more advanced state of breakup than expected between Sleetmute and Aniak, with some areas of running water and lots of broken ice.

While the early forecast for breakup this year looked like it might be a bit later than average, steadily warming weather has brought breakup to some upper-Kuskokwim communities a few days ahead of normal – for example, McGrath broke up on May 1, just before 2:00 p.m., a few days before its average breakup date of May 4.

Breakup and flood-related information can change quickly, and this article may be updated to reflect more current information.

Sage Smiley is KYUK's news director.