Interior breakup is late

Posted: Thursday, May 24, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Normally at this time of year, Steve Bergman and the other residents of Allakaket would be out catching whitefish in the Koyukuk River.

But on Wednesday, Bergman was still waiting for the ice to go out.

''Guys are anxious to start fishing,'' Bergman told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

Breakup on Interior rivers is running a week late this spring -- two weeks late in the case of the Koyukuk. The ice normally goes out in Allakaket on May 12, according to the National Weather Service's Alaska River Forecast Center.

''We're significantly behind this year because of the cold spring,'' said hydrologist Ben Balk at the River Forecast Center.

Breakup on Alaska's largest river, the Yukon, was progressing at a steady pace Wednesday, though it's about a week later than normal.

Royce Purinton of Nulato hopes the Yukon will go out ''with a whimper'' this year.

''The ice was not that thick this year and we've been having cold nights to keep the melt down,'' he said.

Purinton has good reason to hope -- his house sits on the north bank of the river. From his window, he could see the ice in front of town shifting Wednesday night.

''The last flood we had here about 10 years ago I had the boat tied up on the front porch,'' Purinton said.

Breakup began on the Yukon River about two weeks ago in Canada and so far there have been no reports of flooding.

Representatives from the Alaska River Forecast Center and the Alaska Division of Emergency Services have been monitoring the river ice.

Residents of Galena were growing nervous until an ice jam downriver broke loose Wednesday and water that had been rising dropped about 3 1/2 feet in an hour.

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