Just got off the phone with local ice thickness expert Kevin Murphy. Kevin has been measuring the river ice in front of the city dock every winter for many years. Once a month he ventures out with his grandchildren, augers a hole and gets a precise measurement so that the rest of us can quit speculating.
As of March 1st the river ice in front of Bethel measured 35 1/2″. Kevin says that according to his records this is a little below average. “It’s usually about 40 at this time”.
Does that mean an early break-up?
Not so fast! Kevin was quick to remind me that much more than ice thickness determines when the ice will break. Namely, spring weather and snow levels in the hills that feed the Kuskokwim have a great effect on the river. With little snow and colder weather forecasted, Kevin says it’s “still anyone’s guess”.