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Public Service Announcement – Get Prepared: Latest Reports Show High Snow and Water Levels and increase Flood Risk for the NWT This Spring

Public Service Announcement

Yellowknife — April 23, 2021

YELLOWKNIFE (April 23, 2021) – The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) is urging residents to take action today to prepare their homes, cabins, and properties due to flood risks across the NWT. 

This comes as the latest snow surveys and information on water level and flow rate show above average snowpack levels in many regions and confirms higher-than-normal water levels and flow in nearly every region.

GNWT hydrologists caution there will be a much higher snowmelt peak than usual, with a high likelihood of nearing or exceeding historic spring water levels.  This may have consequences for home, cabin, and property -owners in the NWT. 

Taltson and Tazin River Basins

The latest information suggests near-certain flooding on the Tazin and Taltson rivers.  Water levels in both basins continue to be the highest on record for this time of year and will be further affected by high snowpack. There is a high likelihood of exceeding the record high water levels experienced last fall.

Other areas at elevated-risk

Many other water bodies in the NWT also experienced record high water levels during the summer and fall of 2020 due to significant rain. These high water levels have continued for many waterbodies through the winter and into spring. Higher snow levels in many areas are also expected to result in higher water during spring melt.

The particular areas that are at elevated risk of flooding based on the latest data include:

  • Hay River - (Hay River, Great Slave Lake)
  • Nahanni Butte - (South Nahanni River, Liard River)
  • Fort Liard - (Liard River)
  • Fort Simpson - (Liard River, Mackenzie River)
  • Aklavik - (Mackenzie River)
  • Yellowknife (Old Town area) - (Great Slave Lake)

As is the case every year, NWT communities and cabins are at risk of ice jam floods regardless of preceding conditions.

Examples of high flow rates across the NWT are shown in the following table (click to increase size).

Unpredictability

It is not possible to say exactly how the melt season will go. That’s because the potential for flooding in lakes, rivers, and streams depends on many factors.

  • Timing of melt
  • Intensity of melt
  • Existing soil and basin conditions
  • Current water levels
  • Snow pack
  • Rate of melt and rain events
  • Break up conditions
  • Ice jams

With this in-mind, residents should be prepared for some uncertainty this summer. The best thing to do is get prepared – and to do it as early as possible.

Get Prepared

Steps to prepare your home or cabin for a flood include:

  • Moving valuables and equipment to a safe place.
  • Removing or elevating electrical components.
  • Removing or elevating carpets, furniture and mattresses.
  • Know your community’s emergency plan and get prepared

Related links

Media Requests, please contact:

Jaimee Kepa

Communications Planning Specialist

Environment and Natural Resources

Government of the Northwest Territories

Jaimee_Kepa@gov.nt.ca

867-767-9231, ext. 53045