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Shorefast Ice Breaks Free From Nome, First Barge Expected June 2

Open water in the Nome Harbor extends out to the Bering Sea. Ben Townsend photo.
Radar view of sea ice near the coastline of Nome on May 28, 2024. https://seaice.alaska.edu/gi/observatories/nome_radar/

Shorefast ice has finally released its grip on the shoreline of Nome. The annual breakup event is a big moment for the community that effects local fishing, commerce, and regional wildlife patterns.

Ice clearing from the Nome Harbor opens the opportunity for barges loaded with cargo to arrive. City of Nome Harbormaster Lucas Stotts expects the first barge to arrive on June 2 with a research vessel following shortly after. 

“New housing and project materials are on the first barges of the season so folks are always happy to be able to start summer projects,” Stotts said in an email.

Following a long winter, Stotts is looking forward to transitioning to summer activities. 

“It’s exciting with new and returning customers getting back into town and coming into the Port Office. I stay a different kind of busy (in the office) all winter, so being able to get back into the field and start our annual facility maintenance/clean-up is always nice after a long winter,” Stotts said. 

This year’s break-up happened slightly later than usual for recent history. Initial separation of shorefast ice from the Nome coastline occurred as early as April 5 in 2019. Last year the ice initially broke off of the coast around May 30.

As the ice continues to move out to the sea and rivers thaw, residents are preparing for the busy months ahead to make the most of the brief summer.

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