Grand Lake residents worry weather sign of climate change
Region hit with flooding and tornado in recent weeks
Some people in Grand Lake believe recent rain, flooding and a tornado in the region are a sign of more dramatic and permanent changes to the climate.
The community was hammered with about 13 centimetres of rainfall on Friday. Docks were submerged and beaches disappeared.
Earlier this month, a tornado hit the area, producing winds of up to 175 km/h and leaving a path of destruction about 15 kilometres long.
Alex Colpitts said he thinks the unpredictable weather might be here to stay.
"I think it's something we're going to have to get used to," he said.
Colpitts, a nursing director at Camp Rotary, a summer camp for primarily special needs children, says Friday's rain left much of the ramps and equipment used to make the beach accessible to campers submerged.
"We're going to lose a lot of our beaches that we have in our province and we're going to have to get used to erosion," Colpitts said.
Nearby resident Lonnie Clark said his beach was also flooded by the rain and his boat was filled.
"I've never seen it rain 130 millimetres in one day. It must have come up six feet, the water," he said.
Sign of global warming
Paul Arp, a University of New Brunswick professor, who develops sophisticated flood maps, said the increasingly unpredictable weather means floodplains are changing.
"To us, from a scientific perspective, this suggests global warming, for the simple reason, the warmer the water temperatures become, the more water rises into the air," he said.
Vulnerable areas such as Grand Lake have been mapped out to identify new flood risks, said Arp.
But communities also need to take the initiative, he said.
"I would basically suggest people have a very close look at the infrastructure so that they can see what their priority areas are for protection, for conservation and for simply even emergency measures that they have the roads to access or get away from if there's a serious situation," he said.
Flood-risk maps used by the provincial government and communities are in the process of being updated, Darwin Curtis, the executive director of the Department of Environment and Local Government’s climate change secretariat, has said.
The provincial government has started mapping key areas using Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), which uses lasers beamed down from planes or helicopters to measure land relief with incredible accuracy, said Curtis.
But implementing the LiDAR data to enhance existing flood-risk maps and effect legislative change is a long and expensive process, he said.