Widespread flooding a possibility in Yukon this summer, say officials

·2 min read
Winter scene near Dawson City, Yukon. Yukon government officials say seasonal and below seasonal temperatures are delaying the melting of the snow, which increases the chances of higher temperatures or widespread rain events that could cause rapid melting, and flooding. (Philippe Morin/CBC - image credit)
Winter scene near Dawson City, Yukon. Yukon government officials say seasonal and below seasonal temperatures are delaying the melting of the snow, which increases the chances of higher temperatures or widespread rain events that could cause rapid melting, and flooding. (Philippe Morin/CBC - image credit)

The potential for a rapid snow melt in many areas of Yukon has officials concerned the territory may experience worse flooding than it did last year.

Holly Goulding, a senior hydrologist with the government of Yukon, said there's a possibility that record snowpacks in eight of the 11 watersheds in the territory may lead to widespread flooding if the snow melts more quickly and over a shorter period of time than last spring break up.

Mike Smith, chief meteorologist with Wildland Fire Management, said the forecast for the Yukon is for seasonal to below-seasonal temperatures over the next two weeks and the next three months, which could delay the snow melting.

"The longer we delay that melting, the more chance there is of higher temperatures or widespread rain events that could cause rapid melting," added Goulding.

"When we have all of that volume of water moving through the river system, it could overwhelm river channels and generate flooding."

Goulding said communities at risk include Rock Creek in the Klondike Valley, Carmacks, Teslin, Upper Liard, Ross River, Pelly Crossing and Old Crow.

She said mid-May to the end of June will be a critical time.

"We'll be watching levels really closely, and that's when communities will need to be watching really closely to be able to respond to what rivers are [doing]," she said.

Ice break up

Goulding said she and her team are keeping a close eye on the ice conditions across the territory right now.

She said ice break up is causing some concerns about flooding in Dawson City and Old Crow.

Danielle Trudeau, director of the government's emergency measures organization, said people in those communities should stay informed about what's going on.

Trudeau said residents should know their risks, build a 72-hour emergency kit, develop a plan to communicate with people in and outside the territory, and be able to know where you are evacuating to in the event of a flood.

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