Flood warning issued for Yukon's Southern Lakes region

·2 min read
People help fill sandbags in Tagish, Yukon, this past weekend in anticipation of rising water levels. The Yukon government issued a flood warning for Bennett, Tagish and Marsh Lakes on Tuesday. (Chris MacIntyre/CBC - image credit)
People help fill sandbags in Tagish, Yukon, this past weekend in anticipation of rising water levels. The Yukon government issued a flood warning for Bennett, Tagish and Marsh Lakes on Tuesday. (Chris MacIntyre/CBC - image credit)

The Yukon government has issued a flood warning for the Southern Lakes region after water levels in Bennett, Tagish and Marsh lakes rose 10 centimetres or more in the span of 24 hours.

The warning was issued at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

Levels on all three lakes, which are continuing to rise, have exceeded their 10-year historical averages, the government said in the warning notice, and could reach 2007 levels by the weekend.

Echo Ross, a spokesperson for the the government's Emergency Coordination Centre, said crews have already distributed more than 33,000 sandbags.

"There haven't been reports of actual flooding yet, but there is an incident management team out at Marsh Lake as well as Carcross and Tagish, and they're still assessing properties and speaking to property owners in the area about home protection," Ross said.

The region saw major flooding and damage in 2007.

As of Tuesday morning, Bennett Lake was 45 centimetres away from its 2007 peak; Tagish Lake, 50 centimetres away; and Marsh Lake, 60 centimetres away.

Ross said levels are rising by approximately 10 centimetres per day.

"Water levels are now at a record high for this time of year, with record inflows into the southern lakes today," she said. "We did issue the flood warning and that means lake levels have exceeded or will exceed flood stage imminently and that flooding will result."

Tuesday's warning said water levels could reach 2007 levels as early as this weekend. It attributed the quick rise to a rapid melting of remaining snowpack in the upper Yukon River basin.

The snowpack was a record 196 per cent higher than normal this year and above-average temperatures have been sweeping across the territory this week. While temperatures are forecasted to dip down on Wednesday, they're expected to rise again by the weekend.

The government is advising people who have flood-prone properties in the area to have a plan in place should the water continue to rise as forecast. The government has not issued an evacuation notice.

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