The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

For the Star 

Ice-dammed lake likely to burst and flood downstream of glacier

Outburst event highly likely according to city's public information office


Watch for flooding when downstream of the Valdez Glacier.

That is the word from the City of Valdez, which issued a potential flood warning Monday morning.

Officials are keeping a close eye on the area around the Valdez Glacier following a potential flood warning from the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys (DGGS) this week.

According to DGGS, the ice dam lake in the mountains above the Valdez Glacier has smaller amount of water than last year.

"It's getting ice filled," said Katreen Wikstrom Jones, a geologist with DGGS.

The city is urging recreational users of areas on and around the glacier to be alert for high water events associated with an outburst event.

"...remember to move immediately to higher ground and avoid walking or driving through flood waters," the public information office said.

Photo courtesy Mike Williams/Vertical Solutions

An aerial view of the lake on the Valdez Glacier that is threatening to drain.

Substantial amount of water in a dammed lake can cause a flood through an outburst event. An outburst event is when pressure causes the ice to rise, allowing the lake to drain down the mountain into a lake and stream. If the water is released it could produce higher flows in the Valdez Glacier Stream.

"It's a caution at this point," said Sheri Pierce, the city's clerk and public information officer.

The high water levels were recently discovered by one of the local helicopter tours and notified DGGS. DGGS is expected to install cameras to monitor the lake next Wednesday. Recreationalists are advised to use precaution in the area. If an outburst event occurs, move immediately to higher ground and avoid walking or driving through flood waters.


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