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Posted on: January 15, 2021

PSA: Danger Warning - Unstable Ice Conditions at Valdez Glacier Lake




For immediate release:  01.15.2021, 3:30 p.m. 


Valdez Glacier experienced an extreme calving and separation event during July 2020. Ice conditions on the lake remain different than experienced in previous years. Approximately 90% of the current lake ice was new and unstable prior to the winter season.


Although the lake may now appear frozen, danger still exists. Glacier ice and icebergs above and below the lake’s surface may potentially fracture, move, or collapse, causing danger to those recreating nearby and instability in the frozen lake’s surface. Portage Glacier Lake outside Whittier experienced this type of event in April 2020:  


Ice caves may also collapse from lack of support or ice movement. Avoid climbing on ice and be aware of rocks, ice, and snow which may fall from overhead areas.


Water in the lake is constantly flowing from the face of the glacier to the lake’s outflow. This reduces ice thickness in some areas, creating movement and pressure on unstable ice below the surface. 


Crevasses exist in icebergs and other glacier ice. Blankets of snow may mask or cover potential hazards. Locations of new ice this season may cause disorientation when visibility is limited due to weather or darkness, even for those normally familiar with the area.


Snow avalanches and rock slides from adjacent mountains also pose a danger to those recreating on the ice and may compromise the lake’s frozen surface. 


Please recreate responsibly. Gather information from a variety of sources prior to using Valdez Glacier Lake. Consider risk, weather conditions, and your intended route prior to departure. 


If you chose to enjoy the lake, ensure you are prepared. Go with others. Make sure someone at home knows exactly where you are going and when you intend to return. Be realistic with the physical limitations of those in your group. Wear appropriate clothing. Take safety equipment, such as helmets, first aid supplies, and a working communications device in case of emergency.




Contacts: Aaron Baczuk, city emergency manager, or (907) 835-4560 or Allie Ferko, public information officer, or (907) 202-0711

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