For immediate release
St. Thomas –Kettle Creek Conservation Authority is issuing a Flood Watch, reminding residents to take extra caution near creeks and streams due to the potential for flooding conditions as temperatures rise over the next couple of days.
Environment Canada is tracking several shortwave troughs that will bring unsettled conditions to the area starting on Wednesday January 24, 2024, bringing warmer temperatures and significant rain. Total accumulation may be in the range of 15-30, with the bulk of the rain and warmer temperatures on Thursday. At this time the track of the system is uncertain, and as such, precipitation type, timing and amounts may change. The existing snowpack water equivalency is estimated to be between 25-30 mm.
“The extensive snow covering the watershed can absorb some of the forecast precipitation, however frozen ground conditions and melt of accumulated snow could contribute to increased runoff, further increasing water levels in local creeks and streams,” says Jennifer Dow, Water Resources Supervisor for Kettle Creek Conservation Authority. Local watercourses may reach or exceed their banks, leading to localized flooding in floodplains, ponding in low lying areas, agricultural fields, and locations with poor drainage, and natural floodplain areas and parks that traditionally flood in the spring. Watershed areas that receive prolonged heavy rain have a heightened risk for flash and minor localized flooding.
Recent frigid temperatures have promoted frozen ground conditions and ice formation through the watershed, with full or partial ice cover on rivers and streams. The influx of warmer temperatures and rain will deteriorate ice conditions, creating the potential for local ice jams.
Field observations taken along Kettle Creek down to Port Stanley indicate areas of open water around faster flowing bridges and culverts, with areas of ice cover in slower moving segments of the creek. In Port Stanley, there is approximately 5 inches of partial to full ice cover between Southwold Wall and Lake Erie, however fishing tugs have been moving through the harbour breaking up the ice. Despite small pockets of open water, the potential for ice jam related flooding still exists.
“Currently water levels throughout the watershed are normal, however conditions can change quickly,” says Jennifer Dow, Water Conservation Supervisor for the Kettle Creek Conservation Authority. “We are entering prime flood season where conditions can change rapidly.”
Residents along Kettle Creek are advised to monitor their local conditions. People are reminded to remove property from low-lying areas and to clear snow and ice from storm drains. “Once the thaw is underway, it is important that the melt water has somewhere to go,” says Dow.
At this time, forecasted wind speeds, and current Lake Erie water levels are not conducive to storm surge in Port Stanley. A close watch on local conditions is recommended should conditions change.
Residents should be aware that ice jams may cause rapid backwater effects and may quickly create flooding situations. Residents of flood prone, low-lying properties in Port Stanley, St. Thomas and Belmont are most at risk and are encouraged to take the necessary precautions, including moving property out of flood-prone areas.
Dow warns that fast moving water and breaking ice can be an attraction to the public – but they should stay away. Banks are extremely slippery, and the water is very cold. Parents and guardians are urged to keep children away from ponds and reservoirs. Ice conditions on frozen water bodies are unpredictable and unsafe at this time of year. Accessing frozen natural water bodies puts both the public and municipal first responders at risk.
KCCA will closely monitor local conditions and will provide any updates if conditions warrant. This Flood Watch will remain in effect until Sunday January 28, 2024, at 4:30PM. For further updates log on to www.kettlecreekconservation.on.ca or connect with Kettle Creek Conservation Authority socially on Twitter @KettleCreekCA or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KettleCreekCa .
Water Resources Supervisor
The Kettle Creek Conservation Authority issues three levels of messages:
- Watershed Conditions Statement: a general notice of weather conditions that could pose a risk to personal safety or which have the potential to lead to flooding. There are two variations of these:
- Watershed Conditions Statement – Water Safety: High flows, unsafe banks, melting ice or other factors could be dangerous for recreational users such as anglers, canoeists, hikers, children, pets, etc. Flooding is not expected
- Watershed Conditions Statement – Flood Outlook: 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, cause ice jams, lakeshore flooding or erosion.
- Flood Watch: Flooding is possible in specific watercourses or municipalities. Municipalities, emergency services and individual landowners in flood-prone areas should prepare.
- Flood Warning: Flooding is imminent or already occurring in specific watercourses or municipalities. Municipalities and individuals should take action to deal with flood conditions. This may include road closures and evacuations.