Suicide Basin Could Flood Areas Around Mendenhall Lake, Could Hit Records

    Juneau, AK (KINY) - According to Tom Mattice, the Director of the CBJ Emergency Management Department, the Suicide Basin is now draining into the Mendenhall Lake.

    We caught up with Mattice over the phone, who updated on the status of the basin.

    "It looks as though we'll be near historic flooding, which means that View Drive will end up being closed, the campground will be flooded, homes on View Drive will have water underneath them in the crawl space and in their garages. Hopefully we don't hit those historic levels, but it's hard to say what's going to happen."

    We asked him why these events are valuable to scientists studying the glacier.

    "We are unique in that not many cities have to deal with this, but since 2011 it is something that has definitely come into our radar. Since 2011, we've had multiple 100-Year-Floods, because of that, the 100-Year-Flood curve has changed and our FEMA floodmaps will eventually change."

    "What is really interesting is that we are seeing repeat events that are hovering at near record numbers."

    Mattice says that if there were to be a significant amount of rain, this sort of flooding could be really dangerous.

    "If we had a rain event coincide with one of these floods, we could have significant flooding, catastrophic flooding, hundreds of homes flooded, but traditionally in Juneau we see very few homes get touched with water. We're thankful and we're fortunate, but in 2014 for example a rain event was 36 hours apart from the flood event and had they gone hand-in-hand, we would have a lot of homes damaged by water."

    The best way to stay up to date on the state of the water levels is by monitoring them online.

    "If you were to Google Mendenhall River Levels, it pulls up a gauge on Mendenhall Lake that shows a prediction of the flood curve. That's a real-time gauge."

    Mattice had a few public safety requests for people to keep in mind.

    "Recognize that the bank speed will be very high and the banks along the river will be very weak. A lot of banks will be collapsing, so even to just get to the river's edge to take a picture compromises safety. If someone were to fall in the river, it would be really hard to get out because it's going to be flowing fast and bank to bank through the trees."

    "We just encourage people to stay away from the river banks and to make sure as well that if you're out checking out the flooding tomorrow to not stop or stand on Back Loop as it can really hinder the traffic out there. We appreciate people being safe during this event."

    Find the latest levels on this Hydrograph.


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