A mining community in Yukon, Canada, has been left isolated from its nearest city because a lack of ice means a winter river crossing cannot be constructed.

West Dawson is connected to the city of Dawson during the summer by a ferry service over the Yukon River. But the ferry cannot run during winter when the freezing of the river makes crossing by boat too dangerous.

Vehicles instead drive across the ice. When the ice is at its thickest, the bridge can take vehicles weighing up to 40,000kg.

This year, however, there is open water where the bridge should be, so there is no crossing.

The ice bridge’s opening periods vary by year, typically it is open from mid-December or early January until the middle of April. But in recent years the number of days the bridge can be used has decreased. The Yukon authorities have been thickening the river’s ice with sprayed water (link opens in new tab). In 2018, attempts to build the bridge were abandoned (link opens in new tab).

The Yukon government continues to review the situation.