'Very strong blue ice' contributing to Grand River flooding

The ice jamming up the Grand River is different this year, says the Grand River Conservation Authority, and it's part of the reason why the flood is so bad.

Grand River Conservation Authority says thick ice contributed to emergency

The ice jam along Grand River is made of 'blue ice,' says Dwight Boyd, which is very thick and strong due to the long period of extreme cold in late December and early January. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

The "very different" ice jam along the Grand River is partly why Brantford flooded so badly this week, says the director of engineering at the Grand River Conservation Authority.

"In some sections of the river, we're seeing ice that's two feet [thick], clear, blue ice, very strong ice." Dwight Boyd said. "And that's why we're having difficulties with ice this year."

The reason for the thick ice is the sustained cold period in late December and early January, which he observed hasn't happened for "likely a couple of decades."

Boyd spoke at a news conference Wednesday morning in Brantford addressing the flood. City officials declared a state of emergency and ordered 5,000 people to evacuate their homes.

He said an ice jam in Cambridge early Wednesday morning built up and then released a surge of water along with chunks of the ice. The ice jam then compounded downstream in Brantford.

The river ice this year is very different from the serious floods caused in 1996, he said, "because it caused a much faster reaction in build of ice here, and the rest of the ice in the river down here just couldn't get out of the way in time."

Parts of Waterloo region flooded in June and Boyd says it's due to the hurricane thousands of kilometres away in the Gulf of Mexico. (Waterloo Regional Police/ Twitter)

Weather systems a factor

The flooding along the watershed continued Thursday morning. Boyd said other factors for the flood are the warm temperatures, rainfall events and globally even "high pressure systems down in Bermuda" have an impact.

While those weather systems are far away from Ontario, he said they can still affect the weather here.

He pointed to the remnants of a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico in June, 2017 that caused flooding in Waterloo region later that month.

"They're just bigger weather systems. They can be far away from us but affect us," he said.