The River Watch Program is a voluntary asks pilots to report observed river ice conditions. Pilots are asked for reports on what they see along their normal route of flight and at their standard flight level. The purpose of the program is to assist the National Weather Service in providing accurate forecasts, warnings, and navigation information.
The National Weather Service is responsible for monitoring the ice breakup process to identify the potential for flooding due to ice jams. Alaskan rivers are also heavily used for transportation and knowledge of the status of the breakup process is useful for knowing when it is safe to use boats. Reports from observers can significantly increase the information available for these purposes.