Winter 2016 took an unusually long time to arrive and has had trouble staying. Now it looks like it may be leaving early.
A record snowstorm on February 16, some rain on the 24 followed by cold has made for a frosty start to March. Conservation Authority staff measured the snow on the ground on March 1 finding the depth and water equivalent to be slightly above the historical average. The snow that fell on Tuesday night and into Wednesday has increased the snowpack to about 25 percent above normal for the time of year.
Weather forecasts indicate that temperatures will rise through the coming weekend and into next week to above freezing with little precipitation. That trend is expected to persist for at least the next two weeks. Generally, spring is forecast by The Weather Network to be warmer than normal and drier although there is the possibility of some further snow events and brief periods of cool temperatures.
If the warm temperatures come as forecast, much of the snow can be expected to be melted and water levels and flows to rise gradually over the next two weeks. This gradual process is expected to bring a minor peak with only low-lying areas along rivers and lakes likely to be inundated this spring.
City of Ottawa crews have begun the annual ice removal program on the Rideau River between Bronson Avenue and Rideau Falls. With the thaw expected next week and thinner ice than usual to start with, it may be easier going than in past years (more information: City of Ottawa information at 311).
Water levels on lakes and flows in the streams are presently at or slightly above normal for the time of year as a result of the January weather and thaws that happened through February. With the changing levels that can be expected over the next weeks, ice cover on lakes, ditches, local streams and rivers will be increasingly unstable. Caution should be exercised by everyone when near local waterbodies. Parents should inform their children of the risks and provide appropriate supervision.
RVCA will continue to monitor conditions and will issue further statements when or if there is an indication that the situation can be expected to change significantly.
RVCA Watershed Conditions Statements:
Water Safety – High flows, unstable banks, melting ice or other factors that could be dangerous for recreational users such as anglers, canoeists, hikers, children, pets, etc. Flooding is not expected.
Flood Outlook – Early notice of the potential for flooding based on weather forecasts, calling for heavy rain, snow melt, high winds or other conditions that could lead to high runoff, cause ice jams and/or lakeshore flooding or erosion.
Flood Watch – Flooding is possible in specific watercourses or municipalities. Municipalities, emergency services and individuals in flood prone areas should prepare.
Flood Warning – Flooding is imminent or already occurring in specific watercourses or municipalities.