Spring is coming! On February 20th and 21st, southern Ontario could see unseasonably
warm temperatures as high as 10°C. The Environment Canada forecast predicts 15-25mm
of rain into southern Ontario with 30mm+ possible in some locations in the southwest
near Lake Erie. Current forecasts suggest that rain will begin Thursday evening
and continue until Friday morning.
"This forecast means staff will be watching conditions very closely over the next
couple of days," says Jennifer Dow, water conservation supervisor for Kettle Creek
Conservation Authority. "With the current snow pack and ice conditions in Port Stanley
this is the first year in recent history that a flood event is almost guaranteed.
How significant it will be, will depend on the weather."
Ideally, temperatures would rise slowly and rain would be spread out over several
days to allow the watershed to absorb the moisture.
"The problem this year is the deep snow pack and the extreme cold temperatures which
has caused the ice to form and remain in Port Stanley," says Dow. "The ice in Port
has been measured at 33 cm. Based on historical analysis that ice thickness, coupled
with the right mix of warmer temperatures and rain means an ice jam is almost guaranteed."
"A lot will depend on how much rain actually falls over what period of time," says
Dow. "What we do know is that the Spring Thaw is coming and we need to be prepared."
At this time KCCA is advising the public, especially in low-lying areas to monitor
their local conditions. As the snow pack melts, the creek will rise and could also
break up ice that may become lodged further downstream which can cause an ice jam.
The jammed ice may cause low lying areas to flood quite rapidly.
As we move into the weekend and long-range forecasts of warmer temperatures, KCCA
advises that all ice in the watershed including Lake Whittaker, and the Dalewood
Reservoir are no longer safe for recreational activities. The public is strongly
advised to stay away from the creek system, and all water bodies in the coming weeks
as warmer temperatures will cause creek banks to become slippery and the creek itself
will be running fast.
Kettle Creek Conservation Authority staff will closely monitor local conditions
and provide updates as warranted.
Current watershed numbers:
33 cm: Thickness of ice in Kettle Creek at Port Stanley
180 cm: Snowfall this winter in the KCCA watershed
120 cm: Average snowfall in the last 20 years
76 - 99 mm: Amount of water snowpack is holding
10 Days: temperature has risen above freezing this year
The Kettle Creek Conservation Authority issues three levels of messages:
Watershed Conditions Statement (Previously High Water Safety Bulletin): a
general notice of weather conditions that could pose a risk to personal safety or
which have the potential to lead to flooding. There are two variations of these:
Watershed Conditions Statement - Water Safety: High flows, unsafe banks,
melting ice or other factors could be dangerous for recreational users such as anglers,
canoeists, hikers, children, pets, etc. Flooding is not expected
Watershed Conditions Statement - Flood Outlook: Early notice of the potential
for flooding based on weather forecasts calling for heavy rain, snow melt, high
wind or other conditions that could lead to high runoff, cause ice jams, lakeshore
flooding or erosion.
Watershed Conditions Statement - Flood Watch (Previously Flood Advisory):
Flooding is possible in specific watercourses or municipalities. Municipalities,
emergency services and individual landowners in flood-prone areas should prepare.
Watershed Conditions Statement - Flood Warning (No change): Flooding is imminent
or already occurring in specific watercourses or municipalities. Municipalities
and individuals should take action to deal with flood conditions. This may include
road closures and evacuations.