Ottawa River finally peaks in capital region

After weeks of rising waters, the latest forecast indicates the Ottawa River has peaked across much of the capital region.

Flood levels should go no higher and in many areas will start to slowly recede

A man wades through floodwaters in Pointe-Gatineau on May 2, 2019. Ottawa River levels have finally peaked across much of the capital region, including in Gatineau. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

After weeks of rising waters, the Ottawa River has finally peaked across the capital region. 

The latest forecast from the Ottawa River Regulation and Planning Board predicts the levels will go no higher — and in many areas, will start to decline.

"It's good news, really. We have received a lot less precipitation over the last couple of days than was forecast," said Michael Sarich, the board's senior engineer, late Thursday afternoon. 

"The river has stabilized and is even slightly declining."

The agency is forecasting river levels have hit their peak in Arnprior, in the Ottawa neighbourhood of Britannia, at the Hull Marina in Gatineau, Que., in Thurso, Que., and in Hawkesbury, Ont.

There are still predictions of higher levels northwest of Ottawa in Pembroke, Ont. 

Still 'uncomfortably high'

While the levels appear to have peaked, Sarich said it will still take some time for them to begin receding significantly, primarily because there's still a lot of unmelted snow along the river's northern stretches.

"We are going to be uncomfortably high for the next couple of weeks at least," he said.

"We are still measuring snow pack in multiple metres in some locations, so there is still a lot of water to come."

In most cases, the river either broke or came close to exceeding the levels seen during the devastating 2017 floods. 

By the numbers 

The board said at 5 p.m. Thursday the water level in Pembroke was at 113.17 metres above sea level, down a centimetre from Wednesday morning. 

They expect it could rise another 43 centimetres to a peak of 113.6 metres on Monday — two days later and 20 centimetres higher than predicted Wednesday morning.

Lac Coulonge is at 108.84 metres, down 14 centimetres from Wednesday morning. The river reached its peak there on Tuesday at 109.05 metres and is receding, although it could bounce back to that peak again in the middle of next week.

Arnprior is at 76.14 metres, down 12 centimetres from Wednesday morning. The river reached its peak there on Tuesday at 76.31 metres and is now receding.

Britannia in west Ottawa is at 60.63 metres. It reached its peak of 60.70 metres Thursday, well above the 60.44 metres it reached in 2017.

The Hull Marina in Gatineau is at 45.11 metres. It reached a peak of 45.18 metres, just two centimetres shy of its peak in 2017.  

Thurso, Que., is at 43.62 metres. It reached a peak on Thursday of 43.67 metres, just two centimetres below the level it hit in 2017. 

And Hawkesbury, Ont., is at 42.72 metres. It reached its peak Thursday at 42.76 metres and did not reach the 2017 flood level of 42.81 metres. 

Can't see the infographics above? Click here for this year's forecasted river level peaks, and click here to see how much higher water levels are expected to be this year than in 2017.

The next update is expected at 9 a.m. Thursday.

All forecasts are approximate and subject to change based on the weather and other factors.

All records are based on data from the planning board, which goes back as far as the 1930s in some areas.


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