Water Monitoring Bulletin – May 5, 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

  • Break up is under way in the Hay River basin. Ice is moving in many sections of the Hay River and is very dynamic;
  • There is a significant precipitation event (starting as rain, turning to snow) forecast over the Hay River basin beginning tonight and running through to Monday and will be accompanied by cooler than normal temperatures;
  • Some ice movement on the Dehcho (Mackenzie River) was 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 temperatures are forecast over the Dehcho for today and tomorrow;
  • 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

Hay River

Current status

  • Snowmelt is ongoing in the northern part of the basin and has concluded in the southern reaches;
  • Weather forecast models are showing a system moving over the Hay River basin from Friday to Monday. This system will bring a significant amount of precipitation (about 30 to 80 mm, depending on which model is used), starting as rain and turning to snow. Rain brings additional energy to melt snow and ice and will bring large volumes of additional water. Weather will be cool and cloudy over the weekend which could limit further ice melt;
  • Ice is moving along stretches of the Hay River. The system is very dynamic right now and local conditions are constantly changing;
  • Refer to the Town of Hay River website for the most up-to-date information, as well as webcam images of current conditions.

Above – Image of Hay River near Meander River bridge on May 04. Photo courtesy of Travis Wright, Hay River Director of Public Services


Liard river

Current status

  • Snowpack continues to melt across the basin;
  • There have been reports of the Fort Nelson River (major tributary to the Liard River) breaking in Fort Nelson;
    • The Muskwa River (tributary to Fort Nelson River) gauge showed signs of ice breaking on May 03;
  • Water levels are slowly beginning to rise underneath the ice at the Liard River at Fort Liard;
  • Break up was reported to start in the Upper Liard (YT), and there was reported ice movement in the NT around the mouth of the Birch River;
  • Warmer than normal temperatures and forecast for today and tomorrow.

Above – Liard River near the mouth hydrometric gauge photo from May 05 at 7:00. Photo courtesy of Water Survey of Canada and GNWT.


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

Current status

  • 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);
  • Break up is progressing along the Peace River (which drains into the Slave River);
  • 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);
    • There was a small ice jam between Strong Point and Fort Simpson in the evening of May 04 which caused a small increase in level at the Strong Point gauge;
  • 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 today and tomorrow in the Dehcho region, with temperatures cooling off to below normal over the weekend.

Above – Mackenzie River at Fort Simpson hydrometric gauge photo from May 05 at 07:00. Photo courtesy of Water Survey of Canada and GNWT.

Water levels on the Dehcho (Mackenzie River) near Fort Simpson are beginning to rise and snowmelt is ongoing, but river ice remains solid.