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Environment

Environmental stories that take place in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.

Courtesy of Alaska National Weather Service Facebook

Weekend storms battered the coast of Western Alaska. While they damaged some villages, others fared much better.  

Scientists suspect heat stress killed a large number of summer chum salmon migrating through the Koyukuk River, a tributary of the Yukon. The carcasses held underdeveloped eggs and sperm, indicating that the salmon were far from their spawning grounds,  w
Stephanie Quinn-Davidson / Yukon River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission

Salmon have been found dead in rivers across Western Alaska this summer. The largest die-off reported comes from the Koyukuk River, a tributary of the Yukon. KYUK reports that scientists suspect that the summer’s record heat is the cause.


Screen shot of NWS Alaska Region on August 2, 2019.
NWS

The National Weather Service warns of possible elevated water levels and minor coastal erosion Friday afternoon through Saturday night from the Kuskokwim Bay to Hooper Bay. Southwest winds of 25 to 40 mph with high gusts are expected to push tides 1 to 3 feet above normal high tide.

Katie Basile / KYUK

It was a quiet weekend for wildfires burning in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. Scattered pockets of rain prevented new fires from breaking out, but at least one fire has grown.

Dean Swope / KYUK

Temperatures have cooled in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta thanks to some rain, but the lightning that came with those storms has ignited 10 more fires in Southwest Alaska; others have grown. Those wildfires forced Donlin Gold to evacuate the rest of its employees from its mine site. 

Krysti Shallenberger / KYUK

The village of Napakiak has moved two more buildings as the Kuskokwim River encroaches. Moving buildings away from the river is becoming routine for Napakiak. 

Courtesy of Ruby Egrass

Wildfires have consumed nearly 2 million acres in Alaska so far this summer. In the Southwest part of the state, fires have scorched almost 500,000 acres in the past month. Alaska climatologist Rick Thoman says that this year fits into a trend of longer and more devastating wildfire seasons. 


Photo courtesy of Ruby Egrass

There have been 178 fires so far this summer in Alaska, and 58 of those are currently burning in the Southwest Region. While most of the fires are remote, a few are threatening communities on the Kuskokwim River and the proposed Donlin Gold mine site. 


Katie Basile / KYUK

The National Weather Service has repaired a broken sensor that malfunctioned in Bethel during the heat wave this past weekend. 

Katie Basile / KYUK

People living in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta felt something unusual this past holiday weekend: a heat wave. Temperatures crept close to 90 degrees in many parts of the region, including Bethel, but a malfunctioning thermometer and not enough data could prevent this summer from making it into the record books. 


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