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Flooding possible in Northwest Alaska after week of rain

Alaska Dispatch
Wayne Hall photo

A powerful storm system that's lingered over the Bering and Chukchi Sea coasts near the Arctic Circle has in the course of a week delivered almost year's worth of rain in some places. The ground is saturated, prompting flood watches and warnings across Northwest Alaska.

More than 8 inches has fallen at Red Dog Mine north of Kotzebue. At least 7 inches has fallen near Noatak. The region averages roughly 10 inches of rain, annually, according to the National Weather Service.

The weather pattern seems to be stuck over the Northwest Arctic Borough and has acted as a "conveyor belt of moisture," said weather service hydrologist Ed Plumb. "This is an extraordinary event, having this much rainfall over such a short period of time." 

More rain is forecast for the Upper Kobuk and Noatak river valleys through Sunday night, according to the weather service. Many rivers and streams in this remote region are not gauged, so the extent and severity of flooding is unknown.

Elevated water levels will continue through Monday.

A full list of all flood warnings and advisories is available, here.

A full forecast of the Kobuk and Noatak Valleys is available, here.