Will unseasonably thin ice mean an early tripod topple?

The Nenana Ice Class ends with the tripod tips. Photo of the tripod from 2017.
The Nenana Ice Class ends with the tripod tips. Photo of the tripod from 2017.(KTUU)
Published: Feb. 11, 2019 at 3:02 PM AKST
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After a record warm start to winter, Alaska’s rivers have mostly frozen over, but thin ice remains. According to the Nenana Ice Classic website, measurements taken January 16 and February 6 show just 16 inches of ice. The previous lowest amount during January and February is 21.5 inches on Jan. 7, 2004. The next measurement on Feb. 4, 2004 showed the ice had built to 30 inches.

Cherrie Forness with the Nenana Ice Class said in an email to KTUU, “We are in fact a little surprised how thin the ice has been, but we are sure that the ice will get thicker as time goes on.”

She also said the organization isn’t concerned and the thin ice doesn’t change their plans. The tripod will go up on March 3 and ticket sale will continue through April 5 as usual.

Forness says they take measurements at different places in the river, “anywhere between 50 feet and 300 feet.”

The U.S. Geological Survey took several measurements at about the same time on the Tanana River. An average of those ice measurements recently showed 28 inches of ice, which is 74 percent of a normal measurement for this time of year.

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