Spring ice jam may have caused Dawson City ferry to beach, says scientist

An ice jam in the Klondike River this spring may have caused the sandbar that the Dawson City ferry was beached on.

Sediment deposited in the Yukon River caused river bed to be higher in some locations

Dawson City's George Black ferry ran aground on a sandbar, Oct. 3, 2018. (Submitted by Ev Pollock)

An ice jam in the Klondike River this spring may have caused the sandbar that the Dawson City, Yukon, ferry was beached on.

Yukon government senior scientist in hydrology Benoit Turcotte said May's ice jam released suddenly, pushing sediment into the Yukon River that settled around Dawson City.

Turcotte also said the water levels in the area are close to historic lows.

"That probably explains the photo that we saw on social media and potentially the gravel bar that was touched by the ferry there at Dawson City," he said.

A photo had circulated on social media showing what appeared to be a huge sandbar and low river levels in Dawson City.

This photo on social media had people talking about how the water levels in Dawson City seemed unusually low. (Alexandra Byers/CBC )

The George Black Ferry had been stuck on a sandbar for nearly eight hours on Oct. 3 before a barge came and hauled it free. 

Tributaries from the Pelly River, Stewart River, Klondike River, and the White River are flowing at low levels, causing the total flow in the Yukon River to also be low.

Turcotte said the dry September combined with the lower than average flows have contributed to the low water levels around Dawson City.

Turcotte said it's unclear what this means for freeze-up of the Yukon River.


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