Ice dam full but holding

Rain to blame for rising waters in Cooper Landing

Posted: Friday, August 24, 2001

The National Weather Service in Anchorage released a notice that the Snow Glacier Dammed Lake at the headwaters of the Snow River remains intact.

Rising water in the Kenai River at Cooper Landing is due to recent rainfall, not to water from the lake. The lake is due to drain at any time, but when it does it will take days for the water to move downstream into populated areas.

Rain on Sunday caused a rise in water levels, which have subsided somewhat since. More rain is forecast.

Aerial reconnaissance on Wednesday indicated the lake has not begun to dump. The weather service expects it to dump within the next month.

Water levels in the lake continue to rise due to rain, snowmelt and glacial melt. The extent of ice tunnels beneath the glacier, which will eventually open to the allow the water out into the Snow River north of Seward, is unknown.

The lake level Wednesday was estimated to be about 20 feet above the level at which the lake last released in October 1998.

Both the volume of water in the lake and the rate of release, controlled by the structure of the hidden ice tunnels, determine the timing and magnitude of the "jokulhlaup," an Icelandic term for such intermittent, glacial flooding.

After the dam releases, assuming there's no significant rainfall at the time, the Kenai River at Cooper Landing may rise two to four feet, cresting five to 10 days after the release, and the river at Soldotna may rise one to two feet eight to 14 days after the release.

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