Glacial dam release raises river levels

Kenai Peninsula residents along the Kenai River could notice higher-than-normal water levels this weekend as a glacial dam releases above Skilak Lake.

The Skilak Glacier Dammed Lake, which is on the Harding Ice Field about 18 miles up-valley and southeast from Skilak Lake, began releasing early this week, said Crane Johnson, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Anchorage. National Weather Service staff noticed the elevated water levels and decided to get an alert out so that those living near the river would be aware, he said.

“We noticed it right around … Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday morning,” Johnson said.

Those who live along the Kenai River, especially in the Kenai Keys neighborhood in Sterling and the Big Eddy area in Soldotna, will notice rising water levels throughout the weekend and into next week, according to a special weather statement posted by the National Weather Service.

“Now is the time to plan for high water and take necessary precautions, including securing equipment and moving items to higher ground,” the alert states.

Skilak Glacier Dammed Lake releases every two to three years, Johnson said, though there were two release events in a row in 2013 and 2014. The Kenai River at Soldotna is projected to rise to 9.6 feet by Sunday, according to hydrographs on the National Weather Service website, and the river at the Kenai Keys area is expected to rise to just over 9 feet. The river would have to reach 12 feet in Soldotna and 11 feet in the Kenai Keys to be considered in a “flood stage,” according to the graphs.

While National Weather Service staff base water level predictions on previous dam releases, Johnson said the events themselves can sometimes deviate from the norm. The National Weather Service will post updated alerts if the water levels end up rising much slower or faster than originally predicted, he said.

Snow Glacier Dammed Lake, which is also on a two-to-three year release schedule, released into the Snow and other rivers last fall and caused elevated water levels in the Kenai River. Since Skilak Glacier Dammed Lake is smaller, its water release events are smaller in volume, Johnson said, but extend over a longer period of days.

High water levels in the Kenai River will likely last into the middle of next week, Johnson said. He suggested people living along the river be prepared for high water and “monitor river conditions for any changes.”

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Soldotna City Manager Stephanie Queen speaks at a meeting of the Sodotna City Council on Wednesday, June 23, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Queen to step down as Soldotna city manager

The resignation comes as Kenai finalizes negotiations with potential city manager Terry Eubank

Houses are seen in Seward, Alaska on Thursday, April 15, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Seward delays action on short-term rental regs

The limits are meant to ameliorate the city’s housing shortage

Kenai Central High School Culinary Students roll out dough for Christmas cookies as part of bake sale preparation on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022, at Kenai Central High School in Kenai, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Guest chefs ready to help

High school culinary students will do holiday baking for you

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID-19: Hospitalizations fall statewide, rise locally

The state reported no new resident deaths from COVID-19 this week

Senator-elect Jesse Bjorkman, center, participates in a candidate forum Oct. 17, 2022, at the Soldotna Public Library. Bjorkman was elected in November to represent Alaska Senate District D on the Kenai Peninsula. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Bjorkman joins Senate majority caucus

He is one of 17 members of the bipartisan group

Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion file
Junetta Delong browses the shelves at the Soldotna Library Friends’ book and art sale at the Soldotna Public Library on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021.
Library sale transforms into seasonal celebration

Baked goods, books and art will all be on offer this Saturday at the Soldotna Public Library

A sign welcomes employees and visitors at the Kenai Peninsula Borough administration building on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
Cyber Monday sales taxes to boost local government budgets

The ability of taxing entities to collect sales tax from online, or e-commerce, sellers is a new phenomenon

A map shows tracts available as part of an upcoming state oil and gas lease sale in Cook Inlet. (Map via Alaska Department of Natural Resources/Division of Oil and Gas)
Feds set Cook Inlet oil and gas lease sale for Dec. 30

The sale comes as the State of Alaska prepares to hold its own lease sale, also in December

From right, Soldotna City Council members Linda Farnsworth-Hutchings, Dan Nelson and Jordan Chilson listen to testimony during a council meeting on Wednesday, July 13, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Council to mull limits on use of Soldotna ADUs as short-term rentals

Accessory dwelling units refer to subordinate, detached units

Most Read