Flood potential high as Lowe River rises
DOT does mitigation work with eye towards long-term fix
Valdez Star photo
Electronic signs warn highway travelers off the Lowe River flooding.
The Lowe River flood plain that is part of the Richardson Highway between Miles 6 and 7 spilled over the roadway Tuesday morning, creating a small lake on the river side of the highway, forcing a small stream of water to empty on the other side of the road.
The road was passable, with safest passage on the left side of the highway when heading north.
The National Weather Service had issued a small stream flood advisory Monday for northeast Prince William Sound, including Valdez.
“Small streams and drainages in and around Valdez may see abrupt rises in water level and considerable ponding of water in low lying areas,” the advisory said.
The weather service advised Valdez to be wary.
“Remain cautious when in low lying areas,” it said. “and report any minor flooding to your law enforcement agency. They will relay your report to the National Weather Service office in Anchorage.”
DOT had electronic reader signs on hand to advise road travelers of the highway flooding Tuesday morning.
“We’re keeping an eye on it all the time,” said Meadow Bailey, DOT spokeswoman. “We’re making repairs immediately” when and if damages occur.
Bailey said the area has been on DOTs radar for several years, and officials were working on a long-term solution to the flood-prone area.
“We’re working on a longer term solution,” she said, but noted it had not been decided what the solution will be. Raising the road or diverting the river flood plain areas are under consideration. “We’re not sure what that will look like.”
Valdez Star photo
The Lowe River tributary that has run high for much of the summer jumped the banks along the Richardson Highway between Mile Posts 6 and 7 Tuesday morning, causing minor flooding.
Wendy Zwickl of the Valdez office of the National Weather Service said the webcam the agency monitors in Keystone Canyon is located on a sandbar in the Lowe River and it appeared to be eroding.
While the precipitation in Valdez was expected to ease before Wednesday evening, a larger storm front was expected to move into the area by Friday of this week, bringing with it large amounts of rain.
“Very wet, very wet,” Zwickl said.
While rains have been heavy at times, the actual amount of precipitation have set no records and have not come near the amounts seen in the past the caused serious flood damages.
Valdez officials, in addition to state and federal agencies, say they will be keeping a close eye on the situation in the coming days.