Alaska State Troopers, Weather Service warns of river danger

The Chena River is seen rising neary to the Pegar Road bridge. (John Dougherty/KTVF)
The Chena River is seen rising neary to the Pegar Road bridge. (John Dougherty/KTVF)(KTVF)
Published: May. 14, 2020 at 6:03 PM AKDT
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CORRECTION: The original web story had both James Fillion and Christopher Hight as the bodies found along the Chena River. That was incorrect. Only Christopher Hight was found.

The Alaska State Troopers and National Weather Service are warning about high water on Alaska's Interior rivers. Warm temperatures have caused faster than normal snowmelt in the hills. According to meteorologist Alex Young, these temperatures have created runoff that has caused rivers to rise.

The high rivers have led to two search operations in the last five days. On Sunday, Alfaz Khan went missing after jumping into the Tanana river to save his dog. Thursday troopers found the body of Christopher Hight, who went missing after his boat capsized on the upper Chena River.

Sergeant Aaron Mobley with AST said that high water levels in rivers make them extremely dangerous right now. He suggests being careful near moving bodies of water.

"If you're not an experienced boater or swimmer, you shouldn't be on the rivers, or if you're on the rivers at this point, you need to have PFDs on or if you're fishing next to a swift moving river or high rising water are, you need to have on some type of flotation device,” said Mobley.

Mobley asks that citizens stay off the rivers for now until the levels return to normal.

Young said that rivers are expected to remain high through the weekend before slowly going down. He also said that there is lots of debris in the fast-moving rivers and that the water is very cold.

Young says with the cold water temperatures, hypothermia could happen within minutes of going in the water. He says river levels are expected to return to normal within one to two weeks.

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