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Measuring snow pack one part of predicting flood risk

It might not feel much like spring is almost here, but conservation authorities are preparing for when things finally do warm up.

It might not feel much like spring is almost here, but conservation authorities are preparing for when things finally do warm up.

Conservation Sudbury has been measuring the snow pack in the watersheds around the city to assess the flood risk, and the depth of snow is normal, according to general manager Paul Sajatovic.

But the big concern is that the consistently cold temperatures are not allowing any gradual melting.

“I think that is really what will have people somewhat concerned is how long that trend carries on. And then how quickly it starts to warm up,” he said.

Sajatovic said Conservation Sudbury will step up snow monitoring in the coming weeks as spring arrives.

'Instant' readings

One person doing the measuring is water resource technologist Anoop Naik, who has a special hollow tube with him that takes snow cores.

“When you insert the core sampler slowly, there might be two different crusts,” he said. “Then you correlate that to the water content. That's how quick it's going to go.”

Back at the road, conservation authority regulations officer Dennis Lenzi records the measurements. 

After collecting 10 samples, they check the weight of the snow to calculate the water content.

Lenzi said that — more than the depth of snow — weight helps determine how much water will flow when it melts.

“The weight of that tube, the core, is calibrated to the scale,” he said. “And we can have a reading instantly right here in the field on how many inches of water is in that snowpack.”

The measuring of snow is only one factor in determining the flood risk in the area. Much also depends on how quickly warmer temperatures arrive, and how much water was frozen into the ground before the first snow in the fell.

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