Local officials in Juneau, Alaska, have declared an emergency as a glacial lake outburst flood caused havoc close to the city, where buildings have been demolished.
The Mendenhall Glacier’s Suicide Basin, a side basin located about 12 miles north of the state capital of Alaska, broke, causing flooding. A flood results from the glacial lake outburst, when a dam holding back a glacier lake fails.
The National Weather Service said that several buildings along the Mendenhall River have been destroyed by water. Rob Barr, the deputy city manager of Juneau, told ABC News that two homes had been lost and one had been damaged and partially carried away.
Barr stated that “a handful” of further homes, including one that is “significantly undermined,” are in danger. The NWS reported that there are currently trees and other debris all across the river and that the flooding is an “extreme” occurrence.
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According to the FEMA scale, according to Aaron Jacobs of the National Weather Service in Juneau, there was less than a 1% probability of that degree of flooding happening. “We didn’t even think that this was possible,” Jacobs said. Residents’ videos of the Mendenhall River near Juneau International Airport show floating debris and trees.
On Saturday at roughly 11:15 p.m. local time, the Mendenhall Lake level crested at 14.97 feet, breaking the previous record of 11.99 feet set in July 2016. According to the NWS, substantial flooding was observed in formerly dry places, and there has been significant erosion along the riverbanks.
Flooding is still occurring, despite the fact that water has been receding at a quick rate of 0.7 feet per hour, the NWS said. According to the city of Juneau, the flooding has caused the closure of numerous highways and bridges throughout the area. Residents were advised to avoid the river for the duration of the flood event by city emergency operations.