Flooding possible in Kenai basin

Posted: Tuesday, June 26, 2001

Recent weather hasn't given Kenai Peninsula residents anything to complain about, but it is causing some concern over rising water in the Kenai River basin.

The National Weather Service in Anchorage issued a statement Monday warning that warm temperatures are causing snowpack to melt and water levels to rise.

"A significant rise in water levels has been occurring at all of the streams and creeks in the Kenai basin with high elevation snow packs remaining," said the report.

Last week, the water did come up into the boat launching area at Primrose Campground on the southern shores of Kenai Lake, said Dan Lentz, public service staff for the Seward Ranger District of the U.S. Forest Service.

While generally warm weather means water evaporates and levels decrease, in Alaska where streams are glacier fed, the water rises with the temperatures, said Lentz.

"We can expect that," he said. "When the water levels rose, we talked about closing down the campgrounds, but the next day the water level went back down again. It was nowhere near hazardous, but it can trap people."

The newest advisory applies to several different areas in the Kenai River basin. As of Monday morning, the water was at 12.8 feet near Primrose Road leading into the campground. At 13 feet, the water starts to flow over the road, said the report.

It also notes that the water level at the Trail River Campground on the northern shore of Kenai Lake was at 8.5 feet, and at 9 feet water will begin to overflow. Other streams also are high due to snowmelt. Sixmile Creek near Hope is inches away from running over its banks.

Boaters, campers, hikers and others using these and other streams should be aware of the possibility of rising water.

"Anytime you are in this part of the county that you are dealing with glaciated streams, don't panic -- head for higher ground," Lentz said. "It might come in for a while, but wait for the water to recede."

When the water rose over the banks at Primrose Campground last Thursday, Lentz said, it was gone eight to 10 hours later.

He also cautioned people not to enter areas that have any degree of water.

"It may be worse than the few inches it appears, especially if it is a dirt road like Primrose Road."

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