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Spring is Coming Flood Outlook
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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.

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