Flying fish? Salmon swim across flooded Seward runway
A flood-prone runway in Seward was immersed by water from the nearby Resurrection River Wednesday, leading to its closure after state workers saw fish making their way across it.
A Facebook post announcing the closure, on the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities page at about 10 a.m. Wednesday, said the department will “reevaluate the runway as conditions change” in the wake of a major windstorm that swept through Southcentral Alaska overnight Tuesday.
DOTPF spokeswoman Shannon McCarthy, who wrote the Facebook post, said that the runway had also flooded Friday before the storm’s arrival. She emphasized that the airport was not closed and that it can still accommodate aircraft.
“What we tend to see is flooding in the spring and again in the fall,” McCarthy said. “There’s not a lot of intervention we can do other than closing the runway, letting people know they can land on the other runway.”
Michael Ottenweller, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Anchorage, said Seward got 1.67 inches of rain in a one-day period starting at 11 a.m. Tuesday – including three-tenths of an inch which fell between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. Wednesday.
“It’s a healthy amount of rain; it’s not completely out of the ordinary for them, but in 24 hours that’s a pretty healthy amount of rain for Seward,” Ottenweller said.
“The river was high and coupling that with salmon kind of congregating there, all those things -- the wind, the river, the rain -- probably combined to let the salmon have free rein of the runway.”
State officials are in the discussion phases regarding a potential long-term plan to upgrade or replace the runway, McCarthy said. It will be closed until at least 3 p.m. Thursday, according to DOTPF.