No flood expected for Southern Lakes

Barring hot weather or heavy rainfall, the Southern Lakes region is no longer expected to flood this year. The water levels stabilized over the weekend at about 20 centimetres below flooding.

Barring hot weather or heavy rainfall, the Southern Lakes region is no longer expected to flood this year.

The water levels stabilized over the weekend at about 20 centimetres below flooding.

This week’s warmer temperatures are expected to cause a slight rise – around five centimetres – but at that level there still will be no significant risk to Southern Lakes properties.

“Summer’s pretty much over here – I hate to say it – around the middle of August,” said Ric Janowicz with Environment Yukon. “And temperatures historically drop off very quickly, and we’re at that stage now.”

Mitigation efforts by officials have been scaled back, and the flood risk rating has been lowered from high to moderate.

A heat wave or heavy rain could cause a significant rise in the water levels, but those events are not forecasted at this time.

Under current conditions the lakes are expected to peak in the third week of August at about 15 centimetres below the flood level.

The water levels in the Southern Lakes are largely driven by glacier and snow melt caused by warm temperatures, and by precipitation.

This year’s snow pack in the region was 36 per cent above normal, and early forecasts called for a low to moderate risk of flooding.

That changed in late June, however, when hot temperatures spurred glacial melt and caused water levels to rise by about 10 centimetres per day for several days.

At that point officials deemed the flood risk to be high, and since then they have been urging Southern Lakes residents to assess their homes and develop an emergency plan.

The highest flood on record in the area occurred in 2007. That flood peaked at one metre above the flood stage, and half a metre over the previous record flood.

At least 54 properties were damaged, mostly in the Marsh Lake area.

Average water levels in the Southern Lakes have been rising steadily over the past few decades as the glaciers have been shrinking, said Janowicz.

“Climate change has been occurring – it is a reality in the Yukon. Summer temperatures and precipitation have increased over the last three decades.”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com