NWT warns cabin owners of Peel and Arctic Red River flood risk
The NWT government says cabins and camps along the Peel River and Arctic Red River could be at risk of flooding if conditions deteriorate.
In a “precautionary” warning issued on Friday morning, the territory said the rivers currently have higher-than-normal water levels and flow rates, while ice breakup is delayed.
So far, the territorial government said, there are no reports of anyone being affected, adding that weather conditions in the coming weeks will play a large part in determining the level of danger.
In a water monitoring bulletin, the Department of Environment and Climate Change said water levels on those rivers are high, the Sahtu and Beaufort Delta received much more rain than usual last summer and fall, and the snowpack is deeper than is normally the case.
“The onset of spring in the Peel and Arctic Red River basins has been delayed by cooler than normal temperatures,” the bulletin added – the reverse of the situation in southern areas of the territory, where record temperatures have hastened the spring melt.
“Water levels at breakup will be highly dependent on weather conditions over the coming weeks, but a later melt increases the chances of high water,” the bulletin continued.
“It is difficult to accurately predict the streamflow response during snowmelt as much is dependent on weather conditions during snowmelt and breakup. As is the case every year, several NWT communities and cabins are at risk of ice jam floods, regardless of preceding conditions.”
Elsewhere, ECC said on Thursday that water levels are fluctuating under the ice at Fort Simpson, where an ice jam is forming on the Mackenzie River upstream of its confluence with the Liard River.
Water levels are rising behind the ice jam, where a large stretch of open water extends toward Jean Marie River.
“Water levels in Fort Simpson at breakup will depend on the timing of when Mackenzie and Liard ice starts moving and how it clears downstream,” the department said on Thursday.
“Warmer than seasonal temperatures are forecast for the southern Dehcho region, [which] will continue to soften river ice.”
By Friday morning, the Village of Fort Simpson said ice on the Mackenzie had begun to move.
“The risk of flooding is low due to the low water level but, because of the unpredictable nature of ice jams, residents should always be prepared for the possibility of flooding,” the village stated.
Regular updates are being posted to the village’s breakup page.
Hay River declared the all-clear earlier this week, avoiding a repeat of last year’s devastating flooding. Fort Simpson is hoping to avoid a repeat of severe flooding in 2021.