50 Holes in 50 Miles: 11-24-15 BSAR Aerial River Survey*

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Two open holes in front of Wassilie B. Evan's camp. There are 30 open holes in Kuskokwaq Slough alone

Two open holes in front of Wassilie B. Evan’s camp. There are 30 open holes in Kuskokwaq Slough alone

Summary: Today BSAR members flew with Earl Samuelson to survey 60 miles of the Kuskokwim from Napaskiak to Tuluksak. With warm temperatures, strong southerly winds, and rain stalling winter again the Lower Kuskokwim River is no place to be traveling right now.

Over 50 open holes were counted along 50 miles of the River. In addition the recent storm has brought deep overflow to all parts of the Lower River affected by the tide.

MAJOR DANGER: Open holes at the upper, middle, and lower end of Straight Slough

MAJOR DANGER: Open holes at the upper, middle, and lower end of Straight Slough. This is looking upsream from the lower end

The darkness of open water. These large open holes are formed when the flowing ice jams in a narrow channel upstream

The darkness of open water: These large open holes are formed when the flowing ice jams in a narrow or shallow channel upstream

The remainder of what was once a large hole. There are many of these smaller open areas scattered all throughout the River. A little cold weather will finish closing them up

SMALL BUT DEADLY: The remainder of what was once a large hole. There are many of these smaller open areas scattered all throughout the River. A little cold weather will finish closing them up

Looking downstream at the upper end of Kuskokwaq Slough. This open holes is just around the bend from where we lost 3 people in 2014 (yellow arrow)

Looking downstream at the upper end of Kuskokwaq Slough. This open hole is just around the bend from where we lost 3 people in 2014 (yellow arrow)

Closing: It was good to get up in the air with Earl again. We’ve missed working with him since he retired from the Alaska State Troopers last winter.

As you can see from these pictures no inter-village main river travel is recommended at this time. The glare ice with water on top makes it even harder to see the dozens of open water holes that are out there right now. A little cold weather will heal up the smaller ones then Kuskokwim SAR groups will start working on the bigger ones that will stay around for awhile.

Please be patient and if you must travel use the back trails.

And please don’t let anyone travel that has been drinking.

Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving from BSAR.

*This report is not an advisory that it is safe to travel. It is for informational purposes only.

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