Water Monitoring Bulletin – May 4, 2022

News Type: 
Water monitoring bulletin

The Government of the Northwest Territories maintains water monitoring stations across the territory to keep track of water levels and flow rates in areas of potential flood risk for communities.

This information is provided regularly to territorial and regional emergency managers to help understand the status of waterways across the NWT in the lead-up to, and during spring break-up – the highest-risk period for floods in the Northwest Territories.

Technical data

Current status - NWT

  • The initiation of spring break up has been delayed relative to average break up times due to cooler than normal spring temperatures
    • For example, Fort Simpson experienced the third coldest April in the last 35 years
  • Break up is under way in the upper Hay River basin. There is a small section of open water on the river above Alexandra Falls and small ice movement has been seen at the border with Alberta
  • Some ice movement on the Dehcho (Mackenzie River) has been reported around Fort Providence and Strong Point (between Jean Marie River and Fort Simpson), but Liard and Mackenzie ice is still solid at Fort Simpson
  • Water levels continue to rise slowly on the Liard River at Fort Liard
  • Warmer than normal weather is forecast throughout the Hay River and Dehcho regions for the next three days

Hay River

Current status

  • Snowmelt is ongoing in the northern part of the basin and has concluded in the southern reaches;
  • Ice on tributaries to the Hay River in Alberta have broken and have shown signs of ice movement;
  • The ice on the Hay River at the NWT-AB broke early in the morning on May 04 and water levels are continually rising at a rate consistent with previous years;
  • According to Town of Hay River officials and satellite imagery, there is open water for about 2 kilometres above Alexandra Falls;
  • Ice is still intact at the Town of Hay River;
  • Warm temperatures and possible rain showers are forecast for today, with warmer than seasonal temperatures predicted through the weekend.

Above – Hay River near the border hydrometric gauge photo on May 04 at 07:00. Photo courtesy of Water Survey of Canada and GNWT.

The ice broke at the NWT-AB border early in the morning on May 04. Water levels at the border have been steadily rising since May 02.


Liard river

Current status

  • Snowpack continues to melt across the basin;
  • Water levels are slowly beginning to rise underneath the ice at the Liard River at Fort Liard;
  • Break up has been reported to start in the Upper Liard (YT), and there is reported ice movement in the NT around the mouth of the Birch River;
  • Warm temperatures and possible rain are forecast for this week.

Above – Liard River at Fort Liard hydrometric gauge photo from May 03 at 21:00. Photo courtesy of Water Survey of Canada and GNWT.


Slave River/Great Slave Lake/Dehcho (Mackenzie River)

Current status

  • Break up is well underway in the Peace/Athabasca basins, which drain into the Slave River;
  • Break up has been delayed this year due to colder than normal temperatures;
    • April air temperatures in Fort Simpson were the third coldest over the past 35 years (the two colder years were 2002 and 2013).
  • Ice is reported to have begun moving on the Dehcho (Mackenzie River) at Fort Providence, and around Strong Point (between Jean Marie River and Fort Simpson);
  • Ice on the Liard and Mackenzie rivers near Fort Simpson is still solid;
  • A snow cover remains on the ground in the Dehcho, which will continue to release water to local rivers and streams;
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada has forecast above seasonal temperatures for this afternoon in the Dehcho region with a chance of showers/thunderstorms this evening.
    • Rain brings significant amounts of energy (via latent heat) which expedites the melting of snow and ice.

Above – Mackenzie River at Strong Point hydrometric gauge photo from May 04 at 10:00. Photo courtesy of Water Survey of Canada and GNWT.