Eyes on St. John River as up to 50 mm of rain to fall on province

·2 min read
While officials are not forecasting flooding on the St. John River yet, Environment Canada has issued rainfall warnings for southern and central areas of New Brunswick. (Stephen MacGillivray/Canadian Press - image credit)
While officials are not forecasting flooding on the St. John River yet, Environment Canada has issued rainfall warnings for southern and central areas of New Brunswick. (Stephen MacGillivray/Canadian Press - image credit)

While river levels aren't forecast to rise to flood stage along the St. John River over the next five days, the province's River Watch program is urging caution because of the weather forecast.

"Snow's melting relatively slowly right now, which is always good news," said Geoffrey Downey, spokesperson for River Watch.

"But the weather for the next 24, maybe 36 hours isn't what we'd really want. But it looks like it's fairly manageable at this point. "

A wet couple of days are in store for the province.

Environment Canada has issued rainfall warnings for southern and central areas of New Brunswick, beginning Friday morning.

Upwards of 50 mm of rain is forecast in areas seeing the heaviest rain.

"Significant rainfall combined with melting snow is expected," said Environment Canada.

"The frozen ground has a reduced ability to absorb this rainfall."

Snow pack

Snowfall warnings have been issued for northern areas with up to 25 cm expected, which could further add to a later flood risk.

Downey said the snow pack in the province's north is below the 30-year average, but that doesn't ensure an easy flood season.

"You can't place too much stock in averages," said Downey.

"In 2018, around this time, we were probably at or a little below the average … while, you know, you'd rather see in terms of flood prediction, a little less snow than average right now, it's no guarantee that you're going to get a free ride come the middle of April."

Ice jams are a big worry. They're hard to predict, and are always a flood concern, especially after a week of unseasonably warm temperatures followed by heavy rain.

While there's little river ice remaining down river, Downey said there's plenty up river.

"With the warm temperature we've had this week and the rain that's coming over the next 36 hours it's really important that everyone keep a close eye on the river again," said Downey.