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Trade your snowmachine for jet ski this weekend; flooding expected

Craig Medred
Loren Holmes photo

Not satisfied to simply depress snow-loving Alaskans with a weekend warning of "a big, wet, warmup,'' the National Weather Service is now saying to expect flooding. 

Yeah, that's right, flooding atop all the January ice coating local roads, rivers, sidewalks, creeks, mountains, muskegs. Anyone who has been out in the Chugach Mountains above Anchorage, or the Kenai Mountains south of Anchorage, or the Talkeetna Mountains north of Anchorage, may have noticed the way the heavy rains of autumn have oozed out of the ground to freeze into the ice-coating-everything conditions of December.  Now the terrain is about to be flooded a second time by heavy rain.

And Alaska's largest city won’t be the only place hit. Pull out a Southcentral Alaska map, put a pin on Anchorage, and draw a 75-mile circle around it. That’s the agency's flood-warning area: the Matanuska Valley, northeast Prince William Sound, the Susitna Valley, southeast Prince William Sound, the western Kenai Peninsula and western Prince William Sound.

If you were thinking about weekend motorized recreation, you might want to swap the snowmachine for a jet-ski.

"Starting later on Saturday, as snow turns over to rain, there will likely be significant water overflow on area rivers and streams. This could lead to ponding and minor flooding of low-lying areas throughout

Southcentral Alaska,'' the warning says. It adds that "with significant overflow likely on Southcentral rivers through this weekend, river ice may become unsafe. Use caution and avoid river travel this weekend.''

Because it really sucks when you're roaring up the Yentna River on your snowmachine on what you think is water overflow on ice only to discover it's really nothing but water.

Bad ice is already getting to be a problem. Irene Lindquist of the U.S. Forest Service in Seward reported a snowmachine went through Crescent Lake near there earlier this week, but fortunately the water was not deep.

Avalanche danger in the mountains of the Kenai is also high. All of which makes it sound like what the weather service should be saying is this:

Stay home and watch the NFL playoffs.

Contact Craig Medred at craig(at)alaskadispatch.com