The National Weather Service is forecasting heavy rain from tonight through Wednesday for Denali National Park and Preserve and the surrounding areas and issued a flood watch for the Western Alaskan Range area Sunday.

According to Jim Brader, an NWS forecaster, the flood watch will begin at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning and will last until noon Wednesday.

“We’re expecting another 1 to 1 1/2 half inches of rain, beginning Monday night/Tuesday morning going into Wednesday,” he said. “There certainly is the potential for streams to flood and mudslides.”

Last week, several bouts of heavy rain caused flooding in Healy, prompting Denali Borough Mayor Clay Walker to declare a local disaster after damage was caused to several platted roads and a bridge. On Thursday, the Denali Park Road was closed after rain caused the potential for debris flow and mudslides, posing a safety hazard for staff and visitors.

Locals and visitors in the area are advised to check NWS alerts for updates. Those planning a trip into Denali can check the status of the road at the park’s website: bit.ly/2KHRPpo.

Brader said that the Fairbanks area is also forecast to get roughly an inch of rain in the coming week. 

“We contemplated putting a flood warning out for the Upper Chena River too, but we decided to hold off,” he said. “But we have a high degree of certainty that Denali will get at least an inch of rain.”

A special weather statement issued by NWS Sunday states, “The rain will cause significant rises on the Chena, Chatanika and Salcha Rivers Tuesday night and Wednesday. The Chatanika and Little Chena Rivers, and the Chena River upstream of the Moose Creek Dam dam, are expected to reach near bankfull on Wednesday. Once these rivers rise on Wednesday, they will remain high through next weekend. This rain will also cause significant rises on the Koyukuk and Jim Rivers upstream of Bettles on Tuesday and Wednesday.”

“It’s not a good week to start out hunting,” Brader quipped.

Contact staff writer Alistair Gardiner at 459-7575. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMoutdoors.

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