Emergency officials monitoring 4 ice jams across province

EMO wants Fredericton residents to be ready to head for hills, if necessary

The Emergency Measures Organization is already monitoring four ice jams across the province as the government's River Watch program gets set to start on Monday.

The River Watch program provides information about the status of rivers, potential risks of ice jams and other flood issues across the province in coming weeks.

The ice jams that have already attracted the attention of emergency officials are on the Tobique River, the St. John River near Florenceville-Bristol, the Kennebecasis River and the Hammond River.

"These continue to be monitored but so far no significant impacts have been reported," said Jasmin Boisvert, a water resources specialist with the Department of Environment and Local Government.

Boisvert said the last snow-water equivalent numbers showed near normal levels in northwest New Brunswick, higher than normal in central areas, below normal along the Fundy coast, with the highest amount in the northeast with 200 mm snow-water equivalent. .

Greg MacCallum, the director of the province's EMO, said even with the amount of information available, it's impossible to say how likely it is there will be flooding this spring. He did say EMO advises people to be prepared for a flood.

"As a rule of thumb if people have been flooded before it's always wise to move your personal possessions, vehicles, yard furniture, whatever it might be, to higher ground," said MacCallum, who also advised New Brunswickers have enough resources to survive without help for 72 hours.

Claude Coté, a warning preparedness meteorologist from Environment Canada, said this winter has been "everything but normal." He said the St. John River has seen the longest stretch of open water since 1825.

"The ice formed very late, then we had these roller coaster temperatures," said Coté.

Coté said the temperature forecast for the province shows below normal temperatures for the Upper St. John River basin, inconclusive for central New Brunswick and above normal in extreme southern New Brunswick.

Every morning, officials will receive a weather briefing, collect data from various sources and use that information for river modelling and forecasting. The public will be informed of any risks that have been identified.

The River Watch program is a joint effort between the Department of Environment and the Local Government and the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization.

Other partners include NB Power, watershed groups, and federal, province and state agencies involved in monitoring and forecasting the water flow in the province's rivers and streams.