High water levels and flow rates expected to continue through the fall and winter in the NWT

Public Service Announcement

Yellowknife — November 19, 2020

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources would like to advise the public of higher than normal water levels and flow rates on many lakes, rivers and streams across the Northwest Territories (NWT).

Many water bodies in the NWT experienced record high water levels during the summer of 2020 due to significant rain and snow. These high water levels have continued during the fall and will likely remain throughout the winter.

For example, on Great Slave Lake at Yellowknife Bay, the average water level for this time of year is 156.5 metres. As of November 18, 2020, water levels are approximately 50 centimetres higher than average, at 157 metres.

Examples of high flow rates across the NWT are shown in the following table.

Water Body

Average Water Flow

Water Flow (as of Nov 18)

Tazin River (near the mouth)

60 cubic metres per second

372 cubic metres per second (as of Oct 15)

Taltson River (below hydro dam)

215 cubic metres per second

628 cubic metres per second (as of Nov 12)

Lockhart River (at outlet of Artillery Lake)

132 cubic metres per second

249 cubic metres per second

Kakisa River (at outlet of Kakisa Lake)

35 cubic metres per second

125 cubic metres per second (estimated)

High water conditions may mean freeze-up occurs later than usual, may cause thin ice in places where it is normally thicker and stable, and may result in changes in water overflow on land and ice.    

With different freeze-up and ice conditions expected this fall and winter, caution is advised when travelling on the land.

Here are some helpful tips to stay safe when out on the land:

  • Tell family and friends where you are going and when you plan to be back.
  • Travel in a group and make sure someone at home knows who is with you.
  • Prepare for changing weather conditions and bring an emergency survival kit.
  • Check in regularly with home – if you can.
  • Check the weather and ice conditions in your area.

Real-time data for rivers, streams and lakes in the NWT can be found on Environment and Climate Change Canada’s web site:  https://wateroffice.ec.gc.ca/index_e.html


For more information, please contact:

Public Affairs and Communications

Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Government of the Northwest Territories