Southern Lakes expected to flood

Water in the Southern Lakes region will rise to at least flood levels this season, forecasts project. The severity of the floods will depend on the weather for the rest of the summer, said Ric Janowicz with Environment Yukon. The water levels are expected to peak around mid-August.

Water in the Southern Lakes region will rise to at least flood levels this season, forecasts project.

The severity of the floods will depend on the weather for the rest of the summer, said Ric Janowicz with Environment Yukon.

The water levels are expected to peak around mid-August.

Last week, water levels in the Southern Lakes were rising 10 centimetres per day but the rise has since levelled off to about two centimetres per day.

The rapid increase was caused by warm weather and the resulting glacial melt.

The Southern Lakes region has seen above-normal rainfall this year, although perhaps surprisingly that benchmark was passed only in the last few days.

“Everybody doesn’t really believe the numbers, but it was just on the weekend that we went above normal,” Janowicz said.

The record floods of 2007 peaked at about one metre above flood stage.

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

In the wake of those floods, the Yukon Housing Corporation offered financial assistance to help with repairs.

People whose main place of residence was flooded were eligible for grants, and those with recreational properties could apply for interest-free loans of up to $35,000.

Flooding insurance is not available for residential properties in Canada.

Only people with homes in an area prone to flooding would be inclined to buy insurance, and for this reason the cost of such a plan would be prohibitively expensive for most property owners.

The Southern Lakes flooded in 2004 and this year the water is expected to rise to at least that level.

The incidence and severity of floods in the area is related first to glacial melt associated with warmer temperatures, and secondly to summer rainfall.

The flooding in recent years is not a random event but the effect of changing weather patterns, Janowicz said.

“Is this an indication of climate change or climate warming? I’d say it is,” Janowicz said.

“Water levels on the Southern Lakes have been increasing: there’s an increasing trend in the last three decades as a result of warmer temperatures and increased glacial melt.”

There is no immediate worry for the Southern Lakes region. In fact, a drying trend is projected for the next week.

Beyond that, it is difficult to predict what exactly the weather will do, Janowicz said.

Correction: Due to an editing mistake, the original version of this article mistakenly said the region last flooded in 2004, rather than 2007.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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