After Hay River, how’s the water looking elsewhere in the NWT?


As residents of Hay River, the West Point First Nation and Kátł’odeeche First Nation assess last week’s flood damage, communities are on alert farther toward the Arctic Ocean.

That means communities along the Mackenzie and Peel rivers – the likes of Norman Wells, Tulita, Fort McPherson and Aklavik – are now carefully monitoring local water levels.

On Sunday, the NWT’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources said increases in water levels recorded in those communities are so far within the normal annual range.

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In Jean Marie River, meanwhile, the community reported ice breaking on the Mackenzie early on Saturday morning. Water levels briefly crossed the threshold for an evacuation alert on Saturday, officials said, but had since receded.

Hydrologists added that a provisional water level reading in Hay River on Sunday was the highest open-water level – after the ice has pushed through – ever recorded for the community.

Mackenzie River

On the Mackenzie River, GNWT hydrologists said on Sunday a stretch of ice remained intact about 40 km upstream of Jean Marie River. Ice was, in general, reported to be moving well down the river.

Water levels in the vicinity of Jean Marie River appear to have peaked about five metres lower than during last year’s flooding.

Fort Simpson has now twice declared “absolutely no risk of flooding” this year. “There is no need to worry,” the village told residents on Facebook late last week after some, remembering last year’s devastating flood, continued to voice doubts.

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At Tulita, reports suggests the Mackenzie ice is beginning to break, while water levels increased by 2.5 metres outside Norman Wells on Saturday, a rate described by hydrologists as typical for breakup.

Levels are also slowly rising at the Arctic Red River near Tsiigehtchic, a Sunday hydrological report stated, adding the timing is roughly average for breakup season.

Peel River

Along the Peel River and in the Mackenzie Delta, water levels are slowly rising in line with expectations with no cause for alarm so far.

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Hydrologists are watching closely as Mackenzie Delta water levels were already much higher than average over the winter, though they were still lower than last year.

The weather in the Dehcho and Sahtu is expected to be warm this week – highs of 12C to 17C – while Inuvik and Aklavik can expect temperatures around 0C before warming slightly from Thursday onward.