Friday, 1 May 2020 - Sea Ice for Walrus Outlook

Weekly Outlook

1 May 2020

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

Synopsis High pressure will remain over the northern Bering Sea, while a low moves eastward across the southern Bering Sea through Monday.

Near St. Lawrence Island

Satellite imagery from the evening of 29 April shows the shorefast ice on the north side of the island remains intact. From Gambell to Kangee Camp it extends from about 1.5 miles to 4 miles off-shore. Between Kangee Camp and Savoonga, there is an area of compact pack ice with small to medium floes. Shorefast ice continues from Savoonga past Camp Kulowiye, extending southward across the eastern edge of the island and extends roughly 1 to 3 miles away from the coast except for off-shore Camp Iveetok, where it extends 6 to 7 miles offshore. There is also shorefast ice on the south side of the island, extending 2 to 3 miles from shore from Powooiliak Camp and east. South of the shorefast ice in this area, exists an area of open pack ice, mainly new. This open to very open pack ice varies in distance, 15 to 25 miles away from the coast. Close pack ice is 6 to 10 miles away from the shorefast of Siknik camp. Otherwise, consolidated to compact pack ice consisting of big to giant floes surrounds St. Lawrence Island.


Shorefast ice offshore Nome extends around half a mile then expands to 5 miles offshore Sinuk. To the east it extends to 3 miles offshore Solomon. Past the shorefast ice, a polynya has formed with some low concentration ice or open water that extends 1 to 4 miles off the shorefast ice.

Brevig Mission/Port Clarence Area

Shorefast ice extends approximately 35 miles to the west of Brevig Mission. Away from the shorefast ice, open water has developed roughly 4–8 miles to the west. Otherwise, consolidated pack ice surrounds the area with big to vast floes.

Wales to Shishmaref

Ice around Wales remains shorefast 1 to 3 miles offshore. From Mugisitokiwik to Ikpek, it is hard to tell if the ice is fast, but it remains compact pack ice with big to vast floes. This compact ice extends 12 to 20 miles offshore. Shorefast ice remains from 2.5 miles northeast of Ikpek along the coast to Kividlo roughly 2–4 miles away from the coast. From Kividlo to Espengberg, shorefast ice rapidly extends away from the coast into Kotzebue Sound. Otherwise, consolidated pack consisting of big to giant floes covers the rest of the surrounding area.

Little Diomede

Sea ice is shorefast between Little Diomede and Big Diomede Island. There is an area of open pack ice to the north of Little Diomede, roughly 5 miles away from the coast. Otherwise, consolidated ice consisting of vast to giant floes surrounds Diomede.

Forecast Discussion

Ice Forecast

Sea ice will generally continue to move southward and condense against north-facing coastlines through Wednesday the 6th. Polynyas will continue to form and expand off south-facing coastlines as well. Shorefast ice on south-facing coastlines may break off, especially during periods of stronger winds.

NWS 5-day Sea Ice ForecastNWS 5-day Sea Ice Forecast

Wind Synopsis

Wind Synopsis for Norton Sound region:
Friday, May 1st, northeast wind 15-20 kts (17-23 mph) relaxing to 5-10 kts (7-12 mph) Friday night. Sunday, May 3rd north wind increasing to 15-20 kts (17-23 mph), relaxing to northeast 7-12 kts (8-14 mph) lasting until the evening of Wednesday, May 6th when the wind relaxes to 3-8 kts (4-9 mph) through Friday the 8th.

Wind Synopsis for St. Lawerance Island and Bering Strait region:
Friday, May 1st northeast wind 15-20 kts (17-23 mph) relaxing Friday night to 10-15 kts (12-17 mph). North wind increasing to 20-25 kts (23-29 mph) Sunday, May 3rd relaxing to 7-12 kts (8-14 mph) Tuesday, May 5th, and staying fairly steady through Friday the 8th

Temperature Trend

Near Norton Sound, maximum temperatures will remain in the 30s from Friday, May 1st through Friday, May 8th. Minimum temperatures will range in the upper teens to mid-20s from Friday, May 1st through Friday, May 8th.

St. Lawrence Island and Bering Strait region maximum temperatures will range from the upper 20s to mid-30s from Friday, May 1st through Friday, May 8th. The minimum temperatures will range in the teens to near 20 from Friday, May 1st through Wednesday.

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:

Higher resolution satellite images and wind maps (wind updated daily) can be viewed here:

Marine forecast for the West Coast and Arctic Coast

Remote Sensing Images

Bering Strait satellite image
Wales to Shishmaref satellite image
St. Lawrence Island satellite image

Observations and Comments

Observations of Sea Ice Development

Observations from Port Clarence and Brevig Mission

30 April 2020 – Marcus Barr

Warmed up past couple days, cracks on the beach are getting bigger. Myself and another guy got young bearded seal on the ice and my youngest brother got a few ringed seals also. Ice edge is still pretty far out. Locals are seeing geese now. I noticed that not far west of Port Clarence the ice is not thick as in front of Brevig, it is close to a foot or couple inches less thick.

Nearshore ice conditions in Brevig Mission and Port Clarence.Nearshore ice conditions in Brevig Mission and Port Clarence.

Nearshore ice conditions in Brevig Mission and Port Clarence.Nearshore ice conditions in Brevig Mission and Port Clarence.

Observations from Gambell

1 May 2020 – Clarence Irrigoo, Jr.

More animals are showing up on ice. Gambell harvest its first whale 4/27/20.

A Bowhead Whale surfaces near Gambell.A Bowhead Whale surfaces near Gambell.

Walrus hauled out on ice near Gambell.Walrus hauled out on ice near Gambell.

A bearded seal rests on the ice near Gambell.A bearded seal rests on the ice near Gambell.

Observations from Shishmaref

1 May 2020 – Curtis Nayokpuk

Ice still solid out front. Snow covered thin areas have new layers with morning fog lately.

Observations from Wales

1 May 2020 – Robert Tokeinna, Jr.

Lots of ice fog this week. Local boat succeeded catching two bearded seals. Local hunters are getting their boat ready while one has made a successful catch. Cool breezy northerly winds while its easterly winds today. Local hunters have acquired a launch area. It's been to minuses and a high as upper 20 degrees with winds from calm to breezy 20 to 30 mph, very cool with ice fog. I have seen increased snow birds and sea gulls. I did see a flock of Snow Geese traveling along the shorefast sea ice edge. Outlook for the weekend looks like sunshine, opportunities to catch more game. Pictures to come due to ice fog.

Picture update:

Nearshore ice conditions near Wales - view 1.Nearshore ice conditions near Wales - view 1.

Nearshore ice conditions near Wales - view 2.Nearshore ice conditions near Wales - view 2.

Nearshore ice conditions near Wales - view 3.Nearshore ice conditions near Wales - view 3.

Observations from Savoonga

1 May 2020 – Aqef Waghiyi

No boating on the north side, still closed in, but we went to the south side. A lot of open water down there. Savoonga got one whale, 57’. We took samples of it.

Observations from Nome

1 May 2020 – Boogles Johnson

Today the northerly winds are moving the ice around there's a group of boats at "middle beach" next to the Port of Nome due to the local hunters pulling out to the open water. The weather all week has been favorable for hunting & there have been several successful crews this week in obtaining seals. I have not heard of any crews successful with walrus yet. There are successful whale hunters on St. Lawrence Island as well as Point hope & Barrow. The spring migration is in full swing.

Observations from Diomede

4 May 2020 – Marty Eeleengayouq Ozenna

No hunting yet, still ice crabbing and the north side today is closed and the south side is opened and three days sunshine no wind, today a bit windy.

Ice conditions in Diomede - view 1.Ice conditions in Diomede - view 1.

Ice conditions in Diomede - view 2.Ice conditions in Diomede - view 2.