A significant release of water from a glacier-dammed lake in Juneau, Alaska has led to the destruction of at least two buildings and the evacuation of residents from others, officials have reported.
On Saturday, the Mendenhall River experienced severe flooding as a result of a major release from Suicide Basin, located above the capital city. These events were disclosed in a news release by the City and Borough of Juneau on Sunday.
Videos posted on social media captured the alarming sight of towering trees collapsing into the rushing river as the water eroded its banks. Eventually, a home perched on the edge also succumbed to the force of the floodwaters and fell into the river.
While river levels have started to recede on Sunday, the city has warned that the riverbanks are still highly unstable. As a result of the flooding, some roadways have been blocked by silt and debris.
Glacial outburst floods occur when glaciers melt, causing an immense amount of water to pour into neighboring lakes. According to a recent study, these floods pose a significant risk to approximately 15 million people worldwide. More than half of those at risk are located in India, Pakistan, Peru, and China.
The National Weather Service has noted that Suicide Basin has been responsible for flooding along Mendenhall Lake and Mendenhall River since 2011. However, Saturday night’s water level in the lake exceeded the previous record flood stage set in July 2016.