UNITED STATES NEWS

At least 2 buildings destroyed in flooding in Alaska’s capital from glacial lake water release

Aug 6, 2023, 5:37 PM | Updated: Aug 7, 2023, 10:18 am

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — At least two buildings have been destroyed and residents of others have been evacuated from Juneau after flooding caused by a release of water from a glacier-dammed lake near Alaska’s capital city, officials said.

The Mendenhall River flooded on Saturday because of a major release from Suicide Basin above Alaska’s capital city, a news release from the City and Borough of Juneau said Sunday.

Video posted on social media showed towering trees behind a home falling into the rushing river as the water ate away at the bank. Eventually, the home, teetering at the edge, collapsed into the river.

River levels began falling Sunday but the city said the banks of the river remained highly unstable. Some roadways were blocked by silt and debris from the flooding, it said.

Such glacial outburst floods happen when glaciers melt and pour massive amounts of water into nearby lakes. A study released earlier this year found such floods pose a risk to 15 million people around the globe, more than half of them in India, Pakistan, Peru and China.

Suicide Basin has released water that has caused flooding along the Mendenhall Lake and Mendenhall River since 2011, according to the National Weather Service. However, the maximum water level in the lake on Saturday night exceeded the previous record flood stage set in July 2016, the weather service reported.

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At least 2 buildings destroyed in flooding in Alaska’s capital from glacial lake water release