Temperatures hovering above freezing have made for treacherous road conditions around much of southern Yukon. (Chris Windeyer/Yukon News)

Warm weather causes dangerous road conditions in southern Yukon

‘We have to chain up the sand machines just to get out’

Drivers in the Yukon should be aware of dangerous road conditions Dec. 11, says the Department of Highways and Public Works.

The Alaska Highway between Destruction Bay and Whitehorse was closed due to extreme icy conditions earlier in the day. The highway has since reopened with a travel advisory.

“We have to chain up the sand machines just to get out (to Haines Junction),” said Mickey Parkin, HPW’s superintendent of safety. “There’s just no traction.”

The Haines Road is currently closed due to ice and extreme snow conditions. It is unknown when it will reopen, as conditions there are worse.

“Whatever weather we’ve had here,” Parkin said, “you can bet they’ve got it worse on the Haines Road.”

The road to Skagway, AK, and Fraser, B.C., remains open with a travel advisory, but Parkins said the department “is not encouraging travel” along that route due to snow and black ice. It’s possible that route may also close if conditions deteriorate further, he said.

Conditions between Whitehorse and Teslin and stretches of the Klondike Highway are also dangerous, although those areas remain open to traffic. Highways and Public Works has issued a travel advisory, however.

The decision to close the highway is not taken lightly, said Parkin, especially as this is the holiday season, and is made on the advice of “experienced field staff.”

The poor road conditions are largely the result of the warm weather the southern Yukon has been experiencing, with temperatures at or above freezing for the past week.

“I’ve been at this a long time,” said Parkin. “I can’t remember a rain event that’s ever gone on this long.”

For up-to-date road information visit 511yukon.ca.

Contact Lori Fox at lori.fox@yukon-news.com

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