Wild video out of Juneau, Alaska, where a house on the Mendenhall River collapsed after a historic flooding event.
ABC reports the source of the flooding is attributed to a rupture in Suicide Basin, a subsidiary basin of the Mendenhall Glacier, situated approximately 12 miles north of Alaska’s state capital. This extreme event, known as a glacial lake outburst flood, happens when a glacial lake’s dam is breached.
According to the National Weather Service, the flooding has resulted in the destruction of numerous structures lining the Mendenhall River. Deputy city manager of Juneau, Rob Barr, reports two homes have been completely lost, and another has suffered partial damage before being carried away by the floodwaters. A number of other residences remain in jeopardy, including a condo building that is considerably compromised.
The Mendenhall River is presently strewn with debris and trees. This level of flooding held less than a 1% probability, as indicated by National Weather Service Juneau hydrologist Aaron Jacobs using the FEMA scale. Jacobs expressed his disbelief:
“We never even contemplated the possibility of such an occurrence.”
The Mendenhall Lake reached a peak level of 14.97 feet on a Saturday around 11:15 p.m. local time, surpassing the previous record of 11.99 feet set in July 2016. Unprecedented flooding emerged in areas previously unaffected by such inundation, with the riverbanks suffering significant erosion, according to the National Weather Service.
Although water levels have been receding rapidly at a rate of 0.7 feet per hour, the flooding continues. Roads, including bridges, throughout the region have been forced to close due to the flooding, with city officials urging residents to stay away from the river during this ongoing flood event.
Notably, Suicide Basin has been a source of glacier lake outburst floods resulting in inundation along Mendenhall Lake and Mendenhall River since 2011, as documented by the National Weather Service.
This unfortunate incident underscores a study published in Nature Climate Change in 2021, which indicates that the risk of flooding from melted glaciers is projected to escalate in tandem with the warming climate.