Klondike River runs high, with possibility of flooding

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Accure weather

People in Yukon’s Klondike River valley near Dawson City are keeping an eye on the river, as water levels have been rising in recent days.

It’s raised the possibility of flooding some properties, but territorial government senior hydrologist Benoit Turcotte says there’s no cause for alarm at this point.

“Right now, the peak that we have this year is slightly higher than normal, so it’s not unusual to see the Klondike River at this level,” he said.

He said on Monday that he expected to see the river level peak in the next day or two, then begin dropping. However, the river may rise again later.

“This is a first peak of the season, there’s still 80 to 85 per cent of the snowpack still in the mountains,” he said.

Central Yukon had a very snowy winter, and that’s contributing to the high water levels, Turcotte said. Another factor has been warm weather in recent days, causing more rapid snow melt.

Wayne Potoroka, the mayor of Dawson City, says he’s been watching the water levels rise. But he says people in the area are not too anxious.

“This is an annual occurrence. Every year the thaw brings a little bit of anxiety about how high the water’s actually going to get,” he said.

“I’m feeling confident that that dike is going to do its job and keep us from getting soggy here in town — but every year, of course, I worry about people out in the Klondike valley.”

Besides the Klondike River, hydrologists will be keeping an eye on the Liard, Pelly and Stewart rivers in the coming days. Turcotte said people “will definitely see larger volumes of water flowing in those rivers this year.”

Turcotte will also be watching the Porcupine River in Old Crow later this spring. He says there is still a lot of snow and ice to melt in that watershed.

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