Ice-jam risk has passed, but river watch still on while snow melts up north

·2 min read
The St. John River has stayed within its banks for the most part this year, but the River Watch program is expected to continue a while longer. (Hadeel Ibrahim/CBC - image credit)
The St. John River has stayed within its banks for the most part this year, but the River Watch program is expected to continue a while longer. (Hadeel Ibrahim/CBC - image credit)

The risk of flood caused by ice jams on the St. John river has passed, as all ice has melted, but the province continues to watch for flooding as snow melt in northern New Brunswick.

The provincial River Watch program began on March 11. Hydrology experts have been monitoring the river levels and watching for flooding caused by rain, melting snow and ice jams.

Since March 11, the river got to flood stage at three communities, but receded below flood level within a few days, said Geoffrey Downey, spokesperson for the province's Emergency Measures Organization.

"Right now there are no communities at flood stage, but Gagetown might be back over flood stage in the coming days from all the rain," he said. "It wouldn't be a whole lot. It would just be maybe 10 centimetres or so over."

'Things are looking quite good'

Downey said the organization has not heard of any flood damage in those areas, which are Saint-Hilaire, Gagetown and Jemseg.

"For the most part, the river's been going down for a number of days now, even though we did have a fair bit of rain recently," he said. "Things are looking quite good right now."

The River Watch program depends on a formula to decide when to shut down operations for the year. Last year it shut down in mid-April, but that was an outlier, Downey said.

On a low-flood-risk year, the River Watch program usually ends sometime in May, he said.

"As long as there's still snow in the northwest of the province, you really have to keep an eye on the river," he said.

Since snow is still melting upriver, Downey said, people should continue to be vigilant and watch for flooding.

However, the weather appears to be co-operating.

"It's still dipping down below zero at night in the north, and they don't have any significant precipitation in the next five days," Downey said. "So it should be a fairly constant melt and not all melting at once, which is always a danger."

He said people should also continue to avoid being on the river, even if the risk of flood has completely passed.

"The river's still very dangerous," he said. "There's still lots of water coming down. It's moving very quickly. There's debris, it's cold.

Even if the weather appears to be good, "we'd really appreciate it if everyone could stay off the river right now and wait a little while longer."

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