Mendenhall Lake, campground, trails closing for public safety during flood event
Release Date: Jul 10, 2014
JUNEAU, AK, July 10, 2014 — In anticipation of a significant glacier outburst flood affecting Mendenhall Lake and Mendenhall River, the Tongass National Forest is preparing to close a number of recreation facilities adjacent to the lake and prohibiting the use of watercraft on the lake itself. The National Weather Service has predicted that Mendenhall Lake will reach a record flood stage on Friday.
The Mendenhall Lake Campground is now closed to new visitors. On Friday, the West Glacier Road and all facilities reached from the road – including the Mendenhall Lake Campground, Skaters Cabin and West Glacier Trail – will be closed and evacuated to protect public safety. On the lake’s east side, the Nugget Falls Trail will also be closed, and the Photo Point Trail will be monitored for potential closure. In addition, the use of any sort of watercraft on the lake will be prohibited due to the significant risk to boaters posed by strong currents and waves from calving ice. These closures will remain in effect until further notice.
Forest Service officials would like to stress the high risk to anyone who is on or near the glacier during the flood, due to the high likelihood of unpredictable effects. According to scientists at the University of Alaska Southeast, the flood may cause ice caves to collapse, create unexpected movements in the glacier, or result in rock and icefalls from the face of the glacier.
“This flood event is Mother Nature showing its strength and power, and I urge everyone to respect that power by observing from a safe distance,” said Ed Grossman, Juneau Ranger District recreation manager.
The National Weather Service water level gauge at Mendenhall Lake can be monitored on the web at http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo=pajk&gage=mnda2.
For more information about the U.S. Forest Service response, call John Neary, Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center director, at 907-789-6637, or Ed Grossman, Juneau Ranger District recreation manager, at 907-789-6237.