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Smooth breakup in two communities
Water levels on Liard and Mackenzie Rivers peak below or near breakup normals

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, May 16, 2013

For two Deh Cho communities, this year's break-up on the Liard and Mackenzie Rivers passed with little excitement.

NNSL photo/graphic

Breakup piled some ice along the shore of the Mackenzie River at Fort Simpson, but on May 13 ice on the river was flowing freely past the village. - Roxanna Thompson/NNSL photo

The ice on the Liard River at Fort Liard began to break and be carried away by the river during the night on May 8.

John McKee, the Hamlet of Fort Liard's senior administrative officer, described this year's breakup as a non-event.

"The ice just moved past the community nice and steady," he said.

Guard still up

The water in the river didn't even reach the top of the bank, McKee said. The hamlet, however, is not letting its guard down.

There is still a large snow pack in the Yukon that will melt and raise the river's water levels during the spring runoff, he said.

The Liard River at Fort Liard did break at below normal water levels, said Roger Pilling, a hydrometrics supervisor with Water Survey of Canada.

The Liard River peaked at 9.45 metres on May 9, approximately a half-metre below normal.

In comparison, breakup at Fort Simpson was very normal, Pilling said.

"It's quite a typical one," he said.

The ice began to break and move by the ferry landing on the Liard River on May 11 around 10:30 a.m.

The water level on the river at the landing peaked at least one metre below normal, Pilling said.

The ice stopped and started a few times before breaking in front of the island at Fort Simpson, taking with it the tripod that was set up to capture the time of breakup, at just after 8 a.m. on May 12.

The water level on the Mackenzie River at Fort Simpson peaked at 12.2 metres at 1 a.m. on May 13, just above the average break-up peak of 11.3 metres set between 1980 and 2009.

The water level then began dropping steadily and was at 10.5 metres by 11 a.m. that day.

The ice on the Mackenzie River upstream of Fort Simpson was still holding as of noon on May 13.

The ice was jammed at Strong Point, about 32 kilometres up the river, Pilling said.

With the water level peaking at 12.2 metres, the Village of Fort Simpson's flood watch, which begins at 12.5 metres, didn't come into affect. The flood watch was last triggered in 2003, said Pilling.

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