Minor flood advisory issued for western Kenai Peninsula

Update, 3:30 p.m.:

The small stream flood advisory issued by the National Weather Service for the western Kenai Peninsula has been extended to Thursday.

The advisory is now in effect for streams and river south of Kenai through 3:45 p.m. Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

“A flood advisory means river or stream flows are elevated,” National Weather Service staff wrote in the advisory. “Do not attempt to travel across flooded roads. Fund alternative routes.”

Original story:

The National Weather Service put out a “small stream flood advisory” Monday for the western Kenai Peninsula following unseasonably warm temperatures and recent snowfall.

The advisory is in effect until Tuesday afternoon for areas south of Kenai. Andy Dixon, a service hydrologist with the National Weather Service, said the advisory is meant to indicate that experts don’t expect any of the peninsula’s major rivers to be affected by potential flooding.

“We’re not expecting anything dramatic or major,” Dixon said. “Any flooding that does occur … we’re pretty confident it will be minor, more what we call nuisance flooding.”

The advisory has been activated in the wake of unusually high temperatures and the contribution of recent snowfall that will now melt and run into area streams and rivers, according to the advisory. There is also a chance of additional rainfall over the next few days, Dixon said.

While no major rivers will see flooding conditions, smaller ones like the Ninilchik River and Deep Creek could potentially be at risk, Dixon said. The Anchor River is of particular concern due to a collection of solid ice that is blocking up the river before it empties into the Cook Inlet, according to the advisory. Dixon said this blockage is due to high temperatures in December that caused a “premature breakup of ice” that never fully cleared out before it refroze. Ice breakup is not normally expected this early, Dixon said.

“When it happens in the middle of winter it tends to cause problems,” he said.

According to the advisory, the warm weather and possible rain will “result in an elevated chance for areas of flooding over the coming days.”

Dixon said it is unlikely that the situation will escalate. He said while residents shouldn’t have anything to worry about, they should be watchful of roads and weather conditions, especially if they live near a river or stream.

“This is an unseasonable event,” Dixon said. “Anything that you have along the river bank … it would probably be a good idea to just pull things up the bank a little bit.”

The National Weather Service posts condition updates often, and Dixon encouraged residents to continue monitoring them.

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

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