Flood forecasting staff at Quinte Conservation predict that the spring run off this year will be normal to above normal. Water Resources Manager Bryon Keene says, "Staff are working hard to analyze current conditions and historical trends. We want to inform the public that there is very little chance for a below normal spring runoff this year."
Short term weather forecasts show the Quinte area will have warmer temperatures and more snow and rain. The snow that is now on the ground can absorb 3 centimeters of rain without causing any runoff. If there is more there could be some localized ponding of water or drainage issues on city streets and in and around storm drains over the next few days. There will be very little runoff on large river systems.
Keene says, "Predicting runoff farther into the future is more difficult. The spring runoff depends on three factors; water content in the snow, temperatures, and rain. Right now we know that if you melt down all the snow we have it would be the same as 13 centimeters or about 5 inches of rain. To compare, before the big flood event in 2008 we had 25 centimeters or 10 inches of water stored in the snow by the end of the winter. We have the same amount of water content in the snow now as we did this time in 2008. What we don't know yet is how quickly we will reach spring temperatures this year and how much rain and snow we will have over the next 6 weeks."
Average winters produce 8 centimeters of precipitation each month. Keene explains, "Spring flooding in Quinte usually happens in April. We have a lot more winter to go. If we receive an average amount of precipitation the water content of the snow could increase to 25 centimeters or the same as about 10 inches of rain in the next 6 weeks. To avoid a flood this year we would need to receive less than the normal amount of rain and snow over the next few weeks. The conditions we see right now are troubling in terms of this year's spring runoff."
Keene adds, "The timing of the spring thaw will be critical to whether or not a flood will occur. Conditions are concerning right now and we expect an above normal spring runoff. This year's runoff depends on what type of weather we get over the next month and a half. As we get nearer to the spring thaw we will be better able to forecast runoff conditions. When we receive more certain forecasts we will send out more information."Quinte Conservation staff are monitoring conditions closely. Anyone concerned about flooding may call the Quinte office twenty-four hours a day and follow the prompts to report any flooding. The numbers to call are (613) 968-3434 or (613) 354-3312. Quinte Conservation monitors water levels, weather forecasts and ice and snow conditions carefully as part of the agency's flood forecasting and warning program. Quinte Conservation's area of concern includes all of Prince Edward County and the drainage basins of the Moira, Salmon and Napanee Rivers and their tributaries. The public can keep up to date on flooding information by visiting www.quinteconservation.ca or following @quinteca on Twitter.
Quinte Conservation warns the public that stream banks should be avoided in the winter. Ice and snow make footing unpredictable and frigid water conditions are extremely dangerous. Areas around dams, culverts and bridges should be avoided at all times.
A Flood Outlook Statement gives early notice of the potential for flooding based on weather forecasts calling for heavy rain, snow melt, high wind or other conditions that could lead to high runoff, ice jams, lakeshore flooding or erosion. More information is available at: www.quinteconservation.ca.