WEATHER

Spring thaw, rainfall means flooding possible for southwestern Ontario

The Lower Thames Conservation Authority has issued a flood outlook warning and the Essex Region Conservation Authority has closed some conservation areas.

Some conservation areas in Essex County are closed and a special weather statement is in effect

The Lower Thames Conservation Authority has issued a flood outlook warning. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

The Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority (LTCVA) has issued a flood outlook warning and the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) has closed some conservation areas.

Despite that, Jason Wintermute, water management supervisor for LTCVA, said the weather is really nothing out of the ordinary.

"We're expecting a typical kind of spring melt event," said Wintermute. "Water levels will rise up and get into the agricultural fields adjacent to the river, but not up as high as it was in February."

Jolanta Kowalska with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry said it's difficult to project flooding, because there's a lot of factors that come into play.

In Essex County, the magnitude of the watershed is different, said Tim Byrne, director of watershed management services with ERCA.

"Depending on what type of rainfall we receive and the timing of the rainfall would dictate how responsive our streams might be," said Byrne.

Water levels higher than last year

Water levels throughout the region are "significantly" higher this year than they were last year, said Wintermute.

"Those shoreline communities that have been impacted by floods over the last few years can expect more of the same," said Wintermute, adding that lake levels were only up "a couple feet" and several metres would be needed to cause real flooding problems.

Tim Byrne with ERCA says the probability of a 'measurable flooding' is lower this year. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Byrne said there's a lower probability of seeing "measurable flooding."

However, the thaw is causing soft roadways in some conservation areas, so ERCA has closed four of the local areas out of caution. 

Maidstone, Trembley Beach, Kopergaron Woods and Hillman Marsh conservation areas are all closed.

The St. Clair Region Conservation Authority has issued a water safety bulletin for the area around the Sydenham River watershed, but the agency doesn't expect any major flooding. 

According to Environment Canada meteorologist Gerald Cheng, the warm temperatures people experience on Thursday won't last long. Over the weekend, temperatures will be below seasonal expectations around 0 C.

"The system is bringing some showers and risk of thunderstorms, but as it exits on Friday some of those showers will turn into flurries," said Environment Canada meteorologist Gerald Cheng.

"We're not quite done with winter." 

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