Flood risk abates

Yukoners may prefer a more sudden burst of spring weather, but a gradual thaw will cut the risk of flooding, say Environment Yukon hydrology experts.

Yukoners may prefer a more sudden burst of spring weather, but a gradual thaw will cut the risk of flooding, say Environment Yukon hydrology experts.

The tentative forecast will be a relief to residents of Marsh Lake, who last year dammed homes and property against the highest waters since 1981.

“Temperatures are cool and, if they continue at this rate, then the snowpack should melt slowly and cause water levels to come up slowly, resulting in little concern for flooding,” said Rick Janowicz, hydrology manager with Environment Yukon water resources, at a news conference Thursday.

“It all comes down to timing in the end, though, so when and if the temperature increases, then that will also contribute to higher rates of snow melt and higher increases in runoff.”

Although the Liard basin is at much lower risk than last year, residents should still be prepared, said Janowicz.

“There are potential concerns in the Liard River basin,” he said.

“Snowpacks throughout the Liard are fairly similar to what we experienced last spring.”

However, unlike last season, the thickest snowpack is in the higher elevations, rather than lower.

That means it will melt far more slowly.

Overall, winter was slightly warmer than normal, and most regions received up to 50 per cent less precipitation in March.

Snow pack is “well above normal” from Teslin to Ross River, while Whitehorse to Southern Lakes the snow pack is normal to slightly above normal.

Global warming trends suggest Marsh Lakers will likely deal with more, not less, flooding in the future.

 “We can expect Marsh Lake trends to be similar,” said Janowicz, adding it is likely the lake will rise to “nuisance level” again this spring.

“With the climate change projections and trends, we can expect Marsh Lake levels to continue to increase slightly over the years.”

The information is available in Environment’s Yukon Snow Survey Bulletin and Water Supply Forecast.

An updated forecast will be released in May. (BM)

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