Around Juneau

Posted: Wednesday, July 26, 2000

Draining glacial lake floods Taku River

JUNEAU -- If you're heading up Taku Inlet, keep an eye out for debris and submerged logs.

Due to a glacier outburst, the Taku River is flooding at 81,000 cubic feet per second and rising, said Ed Neal of the U.S. Geological Survey.

``A glacier outburst is when a glacially dammed lake loses the dam, for whatever reasons, and the water gushes out,'' Neal said. ``This is an annual event but this is substantially larger than what has transpired in the last five years.''

Typically, the Taku River runs at 31,000 cubic feet per second. The peak of record took place in 1989 when the water ran at 90,000 cubic feet per second during that year's glacier outburst, Neal said.

``The river has been rising since Sunday and it will continue to rise until the lake is drained and then it will go back to normal overnight. It should be done rising by tonight,'' Neal said.

Since the water levels have increased dramatically, boaters should be on watch for floating, or submerged debris, on the Taku River and Inlet. The U.S. Geological Survey has staff on site measuring the discharge and boaters can access information about water levels at www-water-ak.us.gs.gov.

Train kills Skagway railroad worker

SKAGWAY -- A Skagway man killed at the White Pass and Yukon Route railway yard was crushed under a locomotive, police said.

Don Barry, 55, was using a radio and hand signals Monday to guide an engineer who was backing the locomotive into a different area, Skagway Police Chief Dennis Spurrier said Tuesday.

``We found the victim under one of the locomotives there,'' Spurrier said. Spurrier said Barry may have slipped or tripped behind the engine as it backed up.

The body has been sent to the state medical examiner's office for an autopsy.

The White Pass and Yukon Route runs between Skagway and Carcross, Yukon Territory. It is celebrating its 100th anniversary this weekend.

Western Alaska promised disaster aid

JUNEAU -- The federal government is releasing $6.75 million in disaster aid for people in Western Alaska affected by this summer's dismal run of chum and king salmon, according to state and federal officials.

The money will go to families needing help paying their winter fuel bills, according to Bob King, a spokesman for Gov. Tony Knowles, and U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens' office. It's the first installment of what's expected to be several emergency aid payments for the state from various agencies.

Knowles last week declared a disaster emergency for parts of Western Alaska, the third such declaration in four years.

Those areas have been hammered by king and chum returns that were only a small fraction of their historic norms. On the Yukon, returns were the worst since statehood, cutting into subsistence harvests as well as the commercial fisheries that provide cash to villages in the region.

The governor's disaster declaration this year covered the entire Yukon River drainage in Alaska, the entire Kuskokwim River drainage and all of Norton Sound.



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