Kenai River may build up ice jams

Posted: Thursday, December 27, 2007

KENAI - Emergency personnel are keeping a close eye on the Kenai River because cold temperatures are causing a build up of slushy ice, threatening to form ice jams.

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Ice jams last year caused major flooding around the Big Eddy area and on other parts of the river.

Minor flooding was reported in the Big Eddy area. The National Weather Service also issued a small-stream flood advisory over the weekend.

There is always a risk that ice jams could develop causing more significant flooding if temperatures remain cold.

However, as of Monday, the borough Office of Emergency Management was staying alert and asking residents of low-lying areas to do the same.

"We've been keeping an eye on the situation since Wednesday night," said OEM Coordinator Scott Walden. "It's not so much an ice jam, but a buildup of that slushy ice. Water will back up behind it and then release. So far, it's been taking care of itself pretty well."

The National Weather Service has urged residents living along the river to continue to monitor the river level and be prepared to respond if ice jams do develop.

Walden said people should treat this winter like a typical winter, getting docks, walkways and any other movable property up away from the shoreline.

At Big Eddy, some water had crossed low-lying roads but only to a depth of an inch or so, he said.

That's nothing like what occurred last February when ice jams put several feet of water over local roads at Big Eddy.

The National Weather Service, the Kenai River Center and other agencies are rating this an average winter, at least so far, Walden said.

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