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Quinte Conservation doesn’t expect major flooding this year

By Mark Hodgins [1]

BELLEVILLE – Melting ice could create a flooding risk in the next little while, says Quinte Conservation [2], but it shouldn’t come close to last year’s major flood [3].

Jennifer May-Anderson, communications manager for Quinte Conservation, said the slow thaw this year is ideal for avoiding floods.

“We have above-zero temperatures during the day and then below-zero temperatures at night, so the runoff happens during the daytime and slows down at night,” said Anderson. “All the snow, as it melts along the rivers and is entering the system, enters gradually instead of all at once.”

“If the weather conditions continue as they have been, we shouldn’t have a risk of the major flooding that we experienced last year.”

By contrast, she said, in years with major flooding, the buildup of snow from the winter melts rapidly when faced with a few days of temperatures above the seasonal norm. Mix that with a decent amount of rain, and it’s the perfect situation for rivers to overflow.

The risk this year actually comes from the chance that melting ice could break up and block waterways. “It depends on how the ice breaks up,” said Anderson. “It can break up in big chunks and then some of those chunks can gather together, maybe where a river has a twist or turn or where there’s a bridge.”

When that kind of an ice jam happens, Anderson said, it will hold the water back and can cause flooding upstream.

Quinte Conservation expects the weather to stay the way it’s been for the next while, so the risk isn’t high. Still, Anderson said, people who usually experience some spring flooding should be prepared: “Any people who would typically experience problems during the spring should be aware that they could have the potential to experience problems again.”