Water levels stable as River Watch launches for 2018 flood season
Whether rivers will overflow their banks depends on day-to-day weather, province says
It's not too early to plan for flood season, although there are no signs yet of threatening ice jams or other problems along New Brunswick rivers.
As of Monday morning, River Watch was up and running.
The annual monitoring program provides information about potential flooding and the risk of ice jams to New Brunswickers living along rivers.
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So far, water conditions across the province are stable, said Danielle Elliott, a spokesperson for the Emergency Measures Organization.
"Right now there's no real increased risk," she said. "The situation is stable and we're really just starting to monitor."
But Elliott said it's important the public is kept aware of potential risks as the province thaws.
Jasmin Boisvert, a water resources specialist with the Department of Environment, said the risk of flooding depends on day-to-day weather — "if we have a big rain event or big snow-melt event."
Water levels climbing in Fredericton
Although current water levels are stable, Wayne Tallon, EMO director for the City of Fredericton, said the levels are still higher than normal in the capital region.
"It's basically because of all the snow we've had lately, some of the precipitation," he said.
Major winter storms like Tuesday's coming nor'easter, will also have an impact on flood season.
As a result, Tallon said, it's important residents remain on high alert for rain and mild temperatures.
"Depending on the snowpack in the upper basin and the water equivalency there, what really has an impact on the flooding is rain events, which adds to the water content," he said.
Another significant issue is the increase of water levels in the lower basin area.
"When you get closer to Saint John and the Reversing Falls, if there's lots of snow there, then that has an impact on how the water can flow down the St. John River into … the Bay of Fundy."
Tallon said monitoring typically starts in the middle of March, as officials rely on past flooding experiences along the St. John River.
Over the years, high water has led to road closures, flooded basements and ice jams in upper and lower basins of the St. John River.
"End of April, beginning of May is what we call flood season," he said. "That's what we prepare for."
In the meantime, city officials are hoping for warmer days ahead and cooler nights.
"That's what we like because it slows the river down and it gives the river an opportunity to take the water," he said.
Key factors in flooding
As water levels continue to rise, EMO officials are reminding the public to stay away from the water, and keep their pets away too.
"Currents are strong and there's always ice and other debris that are floating down the river," said Tallon. "That's always dangerous."
People living in low-lying areas should also make sure their gutters are clean, the downspout is pointing away from the house or to put an extension on the downspout to keep water away from the house. Windows around basements should be secured and protected.