North

Stay off river ice in Whitehorse area: emergency officials

Snow pack levels in the Yukon are at record highs in some parts of the territory and are unusually low in others, while Yukon's unseasonably warm weather has made ice around Whitehorse more unpredictable.

Whitehorse emergency officals advise Yukoners not to travel on rivers

The Yukon River in Whitehorse. Unseasonably warm weather has officials warning residents to stay off river ice. (Paul Tukker/CBC)

Snow pack levels in Yukon are at record highs in some parts of the territory and are unusually low in others. 

Rick Janowicz, a Yukon government hydrologist, says the first snow survey of the year in the Porcupine watershed, north of Dawson City, shows record-high levels and is the area of most concern. 

"We are going to keep our eye on the Porcupine river basin, as we do on all the basins," says Janowicz. "But I would think that the pack is so significant in that area that even if it doesn't pick up much snow it's still going to be very high come spring."

That means Old Crow could be in for a wet spring. 

Janowicz says it's a different story in southern Yukon, where the snow pack is well below normal for this time of year. 

He says the next snow survey, in April, is usually more significant because that's when levels tend to peak.

River, lake ice unpredictable

Barry Blisner says the Whitehorse Fire Department usually conducts ice rescue training on the Yukon River, but conditions will force them to use a different location this winter. (Paul Tukker/CBC)
Yukon's unseasonably warm weather has made ice around Whitehorse more unpredictable. 

Emergency officials in Whitehorse say there's much less ice on the Yukon River compared to last year.

Barry Blisner, with the Whitehorse Fire Department, says he normally does ice rescue training on the river, but this year a different location will be used. 

"Because the formation is so little, down by the bridge itself, we're gonna move down, or we might even move to some of the lakes in and around town."

Blisner says his advice for people going out around Whitehorse is simple: stay off the rivers.

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