Alaska’s mild breakup took a turn for the worse over the weekend with a Tanana River ice jam leading to flooding in Manley Hot Springs, a small community of less than 100 residents on the Elliott Highway, 160 miles northeast of Fairbanks.
By Sunday morning, the river was 2.5 feet above flood stage, with a flood warning in effect through Monday morning. “The ice jam is backing water into Manley Slough, causing it to flow overbank,” according to the National Weather Service. “Water is also entering the slough upstream of the community and contributing to the flooding.”
At least five Manley homes were taking on water, according to the National Weather Service, with others surrounded. The local airstrip is partially submerged and river water is flowing into the east side of town.
Forecasters said the water level hasn’t been higher in Manley for 30 years. They warned residents that water levels could spike quickly and “people in Manley Hot Springs should take precautions to protect life and property. Residents are encouraged to move property to higher ground.”
On Friday, Scott Lindsey, a National Weather Service hydrologist at the agency’s River Forecast Center in Anchorage, had described this year’s breakup as “very cooperative” so far. Nonetheless, neighborhoods in Tanana and Salcha saw some flooding, which decreased at the end of last week.