Flood watch season begins with above average snow pack in south
New observation system in place this year
Flood watch season in New Brunswick started on Monday, with snow pack's water equivalency in the southern part of the province at 122 per cent of the average level.
Richard Keeley, spokesperson for River Watch, says that could be a concern if the snow melts quickly, or if there's a lot of precipitation.
"That potential release of water depends on the weather, the temperature and precipitation," he told CBC News.
Meanwhile, the level in the north, above the Mactaquac Dam is about 99 per cent of the average, said Keeley.
But there's no telling where ice jams are likely to happen this year because the cold winter may have caused ice to be thicker in different parts of the river basin, he said.
Observers hired to watch for ice jams and possible flooding will have an improved method of reporting what they see this year.
They will be equipped with laptops for the first time, allowing them to upload information more quickly and from anywhere.
The data will be shared with other provincial agencies to help with briefings, risk assessments and planning responses.
The new NB River Ice Observation System will also send out automatic alerts to other River Watch officials, when warranted.
New Brunswickers who live near rivers, streams and tributaries are urged to be have a 72-hour emergency kit and to have an evacuation plan.
The River Watch program is a joint effort between the Department of Environment and Local Government and the Department of Public Safety's New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization.
Other partners include NB Power and federal, provincial and state agencies involved in monitoring and forecasting the water flow in the province's rivers and streams.