JANUARY 2007 KENAI RIVER ICE FLOOD DELIVERS A WALL OF ICE…OVERNIGHT!
As many of you may remember, the Kenai River witnessed a rare and powerful midwinter flood in January 2007. It occurred essentially overnight after a large lake in its glacial headwaters released its contents under the weight of its own ice cap. The result was a sudden flush of millions of gallons of water down the Kenai which was very low, and largely frozen over in typical winter slumber. It uprooted large sheets of ice thicker than most cars and then piled them all up like they were potato chips. The breaking wave of jagged ice chunks wreaked havoc upon miles of the rivers middle section; hitting hardest from the Moose River to the Soldotna bridge: where no shoreline structure or boardwalk was left unscathed.
The damage to shoreline structures, both public and private, eventually totaled several million dollars. Remarkably the river and the natural shoreline rebounded nicely. Much of the cleanup was completed this past spring and some will take place over the coming summers. Fortunately our shoreline, despite a thirty foot wall of ice, did not receive substantial damage compared to most.
While the Kenai’s many glacial lakes are notorious for letting go periodically as their weight pushes through the ice dams, it is far more common in the summer and fall months when the river is already flowing and absent of ice. Having the water arrive overnight, in the middle of winter, was pretty amazing. The last pieces of ice did not completely melt away until mid June.