News Release

Bear Glacier: Glacial Lake Outburst Flood

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Date: September 5, 2019
Contact: Shauna Potocky, (907) 422-0530

Seward, AK –The lagoon at the terminus of Bear Glacier is currently experiencing flood conditions as the result of drainage of an ice-dammed lake located 7 mi above the terminus of Bear Glacier. An initial report received on September 3 indicated that water levels had increased 1 ft in the lagoon, and the lagoon outlet had widened, allowing calved ice that had been floating in the lagoon to drain into marine waters. NPS staff observed icebergs in Resurrection Bay approximately 1 mile offshore from the outlet of the lagoon. Some of this ice is as large as 6 x 6 ft above the water surface. Large and smaller, less visible pieces could cause significant damage and/or injury to boat traffic.

Continued flooding in the lagoon at Bear Glacier’s terminus is expected for the next few days. Floating ice will likely persist at the mouth of Resurrection Bay indefinitely. Boaters in marine waters should be extra cautious to avoid hitting ice.

Within the lagoon, outburst floods can create hazardous boating conditions that might include an increase in iceberg calving at the terminus of Bear Glacier, standing waves and strong currents, or the redistribution of sediment and debris in channels like the one that exists at the outlet of the lagoon. Visitors are advised to always exercise caution in this very dynamic area.

The park is currently conducting additional research to learn more about the nature and frequency of this hazard. At this time we are asking all visitors, commercial operators, and others to please stay alert to changing conditions when in the lagoon at Bear Glacier as well as throughout Kenai Fjords National Park.

For the most up-to-date information on the status of this area, contact the park at 907-422-0500. Reports of unusual conditions or events are always appreciated.

Last updated: September 6, 2019

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Mailing Address:

PO Box 1727
Seward, AK 99664


(907) 422-0500

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