River ice breakup weeks behind schedule
River Watch official unable to predict flood potential at this point
With another snow storm on the way to New Brunswick this week in a seemingly endless winter, those who live or work near rivers and streams are wondering what the spring thaw may bring.
"But with the amount of snow that's in the woods now, it's going to be bad."
Ene Vahi has similar concerns along the Nashwaak River, with a winter storm warning in place for Wednesday that could bring more than 25 centimetres of snow to some areas of the province.
"It's definitely wait and see," said Vahi.
"The big storm isn't going to do anything to the river," she said. "It'll add snow that'll have to melt."
By late March or early April in most years, the ice cover in rivers and streams usually starts to break up. When the ice starts to move, there's a risk of ice jams forming with the potential to hold back water and cause flooding.
Vahi is a long-time river and weather watcher and says she expects the ice breakup will come later this year.
"If it's warm during the day but cools off at night it's perfect for everybody — maple syrup and the river," she said. "What we don't want is a whole bunch of rain with the warm weather. That combination is not good."
With this prolonged winter, officials with the provincial government's River Watch program say it's impossible to predict potential floods at this point.
"Being that far behind the eight ball, if you will, it's very hard to predict what it's going to be like."
Keeley says the latest snow survey results show the water equivalency of snow is normal throughout the Saint John River basin.
"The worry would be really in how that water is going to be released," he said. "But the temperatures seem to be co-operating."
"It's cold. So if it is thawing, it's doing it under the ice. It's eating away at the ice from under and the ice pack is insulated by the snow."
"If we have a normal April, we're hoping for a slow, gradual thaw," said Keeley.