Rapid spring melt in Alaska triggers damaging river floods • Earth.com

Rapid spring melt in Alaska triggers damaging river floods

Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features the Yukon River in Alaska, where an unusually rapid spring thaw caused devastating floods in May 2023. 

Several other Alaskan rivers, including the Tanana and the Kuskokwim River, were also impacted. Both early snowpack melt and ice breakup played a role in the record flooding. 

According to NASA, the town of Circle – which is located on the banks of the Yukon – underwent dramatic flooding as broken-up ice pushed down the river. Flooding started at about 5 p.m. on May 13. 

“It was reported that the water rose 10 feet in a 30-minute period shortly after that,” said meteorologist Jim Brader of the National Weather Service (NWS) forecast office in Fairbanks. “Although ice jams happen every year, this year was much worse than average.”

Brader explained that flooding to this extent may occur every 10 to 20 years in some locations, but preliminary data indicate that the flood at Circle was near the record level of 1945.

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 


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