The Landscape Changes Dramatically as Three Million Tonnes of Ice Crash Over Alexandra Falls

Every winter, Alexandra Falls in the Northwest Territories is transformed into a dramatic wall of ice. The Wild Canadian Year crew travelled to Hay River to witness how the sudden breakup of ice dramatically changes the landscape and ushers in spring.

But the problem was, nobody exactly seemed to know when the breakup would happen. “There we were waiting. Time passed and two birthdays were celebrated,” recalls producer Louise Ferguson.

The Alexandra Falls breakup is important to the people living in Hay River, just downstream. The local fire department has webcams monitoring the river to ensure the town’s citizens are safe from the devastating wall of ice and melt water that can roar into now-abandoned parts of the town.

"It was truly a matter of good luck that when the breakup did happen, we were ready and not on a coffee run to the now very familiar Enterprise truck stop!”  When camera assistant Darren West shouted, “IT’S COMING!” Louise thought he was talking about the end of the world.

Massive chunks of ice hammered over the 30-metre-high falls making a din that really did sound like the end was nigh. Five minutes later, it was over and the last little chunks of ice were quietly floating over as if nothing had happened. “It really was like watching paint dry — but only if the paint suddenly exploded and tore your house down.”

Click play on the video above to watch.

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