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Port Springs Back To Life

Sea ice finally melted free from Nome’s shores in late May. In the last few years, shorefast ice has receded as early as April 5 in 2019 and as late as May 30 in 2023.

With the sea ice gone, the Port of Nome is free to resume the vital role it plays in the region. Over the summer, the port receives everything from research vessels to cruise ships and harbors a fleet of fishing boats. Most crucial, though, are the barges that arrive periodically, laden with supplies for the citizens of Nome and the rest of Western Alaska: groceries, fuel, building materials, vehicles, etc. According to Nome Harbormaster Lucas Stotts, “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.”

Nome and its surrounding villages are completely isolated from the road system, so its port and airport are vital infrastructure for the region. The sheer quantity of supplies necessary to sustain the region could never be airlifted in, so as many barges as possible must be brought into port before it freezes over again in autumn.

A project is currently underway to provide larger vessels improved access to the port by enlarging the outer basin and creating a new deep-water basin.

Image at the top: A large ship accompanied by a tug sits anchored about 4.5 miles off of the coast of Nome as the city awaits its first shipment of goods this season. Chunks of sea ice are visible in the foreground as the harbor continues to thaw.Photo by Ben Townsend, KNOM.

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Based in the Bering Strait region, KNOM broadcasts throughout the homelands of the Iñupiaq, Siberian Yup’ik, Cup’ik and Yup’ik peoples.