Assessment of Current Ice Conditions Relevant to Distribution and Access of Walrus

NEW FOR 2017: Click the name of each community below to view more frequently updated and detailed information from the National Weather Service.

Near St. Lawrence Island

Sea ice remains shorefast along the north coast of St. Lawrence Island out 2 miles on the northwest side of the island and to up to 3 miles from the coast on the northeast side. Beyond the shorefast ice on the northwest side of the island is open water. Very close pack ice extends on the northeast side of the island away from 2 to 7 miles out from the shorefast ice. The southeast side of the island has up to 1 mile of shorefast ice. Beyond the shorefast ice is open water. The south and west sides of the island are sea ice free.


Shorefast ice extends up to 5 miles from the Nome area coast, but is generally around 1 mile closest to Nome. A small area of very open pack ice extends 3 to 5 miles beyond the shorefast ice, with big to giant floes of close to very close pack ice beyond that. There are several polynyas east and west of Nome with open water.

Wales to Shishmaref

Shorefast ice extends to approximately 10 to 20 miles from the coast between Wales and Shishmaref. Beyond the shorefast ice is very close pack ice, with some open water beyond the shorefast ice near Wales. 

Little Diomede

Very close pack ice extends to the east, north, and northwest of Little Diomede Island while close pack ice extends to the south and southwest of the island.

Forecast Discussion

Ice Forecast

Pack ice in the Bering Strait region will generally move southward up to 30 nautical miles through mid-next week. Near the Wales to Shishmaref coast, shorefast ice is expected to remain in place as very close pack ice sits northwest of the shorefast ice. The open water that is to the west of Wales will likely at least partially close off as pack ice moves back into the area. For St. Lawrence Island, the open pack ice to the north of the island will move southward toward the island but is not expected to reach St. Lawrence Island in the form of close pack ice. The highest concentration ice will remain to the east and especially northeast side of the island. For Nome, shorefast ice will continue to slowly erode as very close pack ice spreads out and new polynyas form in northern Norton Sound.   

NWS sea ice
NWS Alaska Sea Ice Program 5 day sea ice forecast

Wind Synopsis

Winds on Friday, May 5th will be northeast 15 to 20 kt (15 to 20 mph). Northeast winds will increase to 25 to 35 kt (30 to 40 mph) on Saturday night May 6th with the strongest winds from the Bering Strait to St. Lawrence Island. Northeast winds will begin to diminish on Monday, May 8th and by Wednesday, May 10th expect northeast winds 10 to 15 kt (10 to 15 mph). Northeast winds will increase Thursday, May 11th to 15 to 20 kt (15 to 20 mph) and continue into Friday, May 12th.

Temperature Trend

During the forecast period, temperatures around 5 degrees cooler than normal on Friday will gradually warm to near normal by Sunday, May 7th. Temperatures near to slightly above normal will persist through Friday, May 12th with high temperatures mainly in the 30s except into the mid-40s near Nome.

Daily Weather, Wind, and Temperature Updates

The National Weather Service provides twice-daily, text only updates on the weather, wind, and temperature conditions in specific geographical zones. An interactive weather map for access to other Alaskan zones can be found here:

Wind maps are updated daily and can be viewed here:

Marine forecast for the West Coast and Arctic Coast

Remote Sensing Images

Wales to Shishmaref Bering Strait St. Lawrence Island

Observations and Comments

Observations of Sea Ice Development

Observations from Shishmaref

4 May 2017 – Curtis Nayokpuk

Freezing drizzle today and freezing fog and snow showers forecast. Winter conditions this past week with cold northerly winds, white out conditions and on average high midday temps in the teens. Even duck hunters mentioned ducks scarce and not flying due to spring melt last couple weeks now frozen again. Some boats ready but nowhere to launch. 

Waiting to lauch
Boats ready but nowhere to launch

Observations from Wales

4 May 2017 – Robert Tokeinna, Jr.

Beginning of the week, south winds for a day closed the open waters but later on it opened back up when east to northeast winds persisted. As for the ice, remains the same. The local creek continues to drain to the point where water drained off the top of the ice and running beneath it. I have noticed some new pressure ridges in front of the village. Polar Bear Patrollers have been trying to collect polar bear hair samples. Nearby villages report of brown bear sightings.

Observations from Nome

4 May 2017 – Boogles Johnson

Sea ice conditions May 1st at cape Nome: The ice has started movement and many of the local hunters are launching their boats out towards Solomon. I've heard of 3 boats that have harvested walrus to date and they are all crews from white mountain. The Nome hunters have been harvesting seals and oogruk. We have had minimal wind and the ice is hanging around. We still have a significant amount of shore fast ice but I believe the Nome harbor will be open in the next week and a half.

Nome sea ice
Sea ice on the move in Nome

Observations from Savoonga

5 May 2017 – Aqef Waghiyi

No ice for past few days. No one is hunting. A couple of boats tried but north wind too choppy. Unless the ice comes closer again will probably switch to birds and seals.