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Ice-Out Update: April 17, 1998

News from Official Ice-out Observation Post
Tikigaq School on the Chukchi Sea

To: Journey North
From: Sheila Gaquin
Date: April 14, 1998

"We still have plenty of ice on the Chukchi sea, but leads have opened between the landfast ice and the pack ice. This is exciting news for Point Hope, because it means whaling can begin.

An umiaq amidst the floe ice, and a lookout standing on the shore.

"Whaling crews moved out on the ice Tuesday (Apr. 14th), and set up camps near the edge of the ice. The umiaqs are poised, waiting for someone to spot a whale. When a whale is seen, the crews will slide their boats silently into the water, and paddle after it.

"Eskimo hunters believe animals give themselves to worthy hunters. Last night a beluga whale gave itself to a boy in our class named Mokie. This is an important event in the life of an Eskimo boy, because although he is only 12, Mokie has become a provider. After the hunt, Mokie helped cut the whale into shares, and deliver meat and muktuk to the elders. He did not get to bed until after 1:00 A.M., but he still made it to school this morning!

"Like many of our kids at this time of year, Mokie is
attending TWO schools: The school of traditional culture, and the school of book learning. This week Mokie has all A's in both his schools!"

Sheila Gaquin
Tikigaq School(say Tick'-key-yock)
Point Hope, AK
Tikigaq WWW Site

Satellite Views of the Bering Sea Ice Edge
As these views from space show, spring is melting its way northward up the Bering Sea--on its way to Point Hope's position on the Chukchi Sea. When do you predict ice-Out will finally occur in Point Hope? (See Challenge Question #1 below.)

March 31, 1998

April 15, 1998

Source: National Weather Service, Alaska Region

Alaska's Interior Soon Navigable
Nenana Ice Classic
For the past 80 years, Spring's official arrival in this Interior Alaskan town is defined as the moment the Nenana River is ice free. This event is measured down to the second: A special tripod is erected on the ice with a trigger to an official clock. People all across Alaska participate in the "Nenana Ice Classic" and guess when this event will occur.

"When the ice breaks up on the tripod's section of the river, spring has officially arrived. Interior Alaska's river waterways are once again navigable," says Ice Classic manager Cherrie Forness. "A siren signals the first movement of the tripod and, depending on the time of night or day, people hurry down to the riverbank to watch the tripod move out, the ice chunks flow by, and the river open up. "

Teacher Mike Sterling in Anchorages says, "In a nutshell, it looks like we will be smashing the break-up record this year. The paper had an article this week saying that the ice is deteriorating so fast this year contest officials fear they won't get all the entrants logged in before the ice is gone. Apparently, the ice is too soft for the guy who drills holes for ice-depth measurements to even venture out! The expectations are that the ice will be gone in a week or so, making ice-out here the earliest in history!"

As of yesterday, "The tripod is still encased in ice, but the ice shows definite signs of melting," says Forness.

Visit the Nenana Ice Classic WWW site where you can see pictures of the tripod on the river and the official clock. Will this year make ice-out history? Check the ice-out records for the past 80 years:

Addendum: April 20, 1998
The news has arrived: Ice-out for 1998 occured at:

April 20 at 4:54 pm

Loons Win Ice-Out Contest
If loons could enter the Nenana Ice Classic, they just might win. After all, for more years than anyone can count they've managed to return to their nesting territory within a day or two after ice-out. Here are this spring's records collected by the New Hampshire Loon Preservation Committee. How do you suppose they time their migration so closely?

Date 1st Loon Returns

Ice Out


Waukeena Lake ice-out


Bearcamp Pond ice-out


Crystal Lake ice-out


Lake Winnipesaukee ice-out 04/08/98


Highland Lake ice-out


Loon Lake ice-out


White Oak Pond ice-out

Please Report the Ice-Out Date of Your Local Waters

Today's Ice-Out Data
In the past 2 weeks, ice has melted from the following sites:

Reminders: Challenge Question #1 and #5

Challenge Question # 1
"When do you predict ice-out will occur on the Chukchi Sea near Point Hope, Alaska?"

Challenge Question #5
"What word do you think accurately completes this sentence? 'The ice typically leaves the Rankin Inlet in early ______ and comes back in any time from late October to mid-November.'?"

How to Respond to Today's Challenge Questions

1. Address an e-mail message to:

2. In the Subject Line of your message write:
Challenge Question # 1 (or #5)

3. In the body of your message, answer ONE of today's questions.

The Next Ice-Out Update will Be Posted on May 1, 1998.

Copyright 1998 Journey North. All Rights Reserved