June 8, 2023

As spring temperatures spike, the thick snowpacks amassed over the winter are melting throughout the nation, inflicting flooding and a wide range of different points in riverside communities.

The Yukon River, within the heart of Alaska, has skilled the affect of speedy snowmelt. As seen in photographs taken by Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite tv for pc and the OLI-2 on Landsat 9, within the week between Might 6 and Might 14, the snowy panorama is remodeled by spring, inflicting the river to move intensely.

Different rivers throughout Alaska additionally noticed speedy melting and resultant flooding, prompting Governor Mike Dunleavy to declare a state of emergency on Might 13.

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NASA Earth Observatory photographs of the Yukon River on Might 6, 2023 and Might 14, after the speedy snowmelt. The Yukon River in Alaska has seen flooding because of the formation of ice jams within the wake of the snowmelt. The Might 6 picture was taken by Landsat 8 satellite tv for pc, whereas the Might 14 picture was taken by Landsat 9.

The speedy melting of ice can set off ice jams in rivers, inflicting the river to burst its banks and flood close by cities and villages.

Ice jams are clogs in a river generated by giant portions of ice chunks and different particles. This will kind of dam the river, inducing flooding in areas upstream of the blockage. This 12 months particularly made for prime ice jam circumstances because the snowpack throughout many of the U.S. was extraordinarily excessive and melted in a brief time period because of quickly rising temperatures. This forces the ice to soften in bigger chunks which are extra more likely to clog up a river.

Additional, snowmelt water exacerbates the problem, including extra water above the jam and worsening the floods.

Within the city of Circle, Alaska, it is thought that a number of smaller ice jams might have contributed to large flooding within the city on Might 13.

“It was reported that the water rose 10 toes in a 30-minute interval,” meteorologist Jim Brader of the Nationwide Climate Service forecast workplace in Fairbanks advised the NASA Earth Observatory.

This led to important harm to buildings and different infrastructure, with a number of properties being destroyed.

Comparable flooding because of ice jams had been seen within the city of Buckland, alongside the Buckland River in western Alaska, in keeping with a Fb submit by the NWS Fairbanks Alaska web page.

“Though ice jams occur yearly, this 12 months was a lot worse than common,” stated Brader.

Speedy snowmelt is inflicting a lot of different points throughout the U.S. with extreme flooding in Yosemite Nationwide Park and Tulare Lake in California, and several other roads turning into waterfalls in Utah.

Nonetheless, the Yukon River is anticipated to lastly start receding.

“Water ranges are lastly cresting on the Yukon [River] at Galena and look to be making a downward flip primarily based on the hydrograph,” tweeted NWS Fairbanks on Wednesday.

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