The good news is that the days are getting longer as Elgin County inches closer and closer toward spring equinox around March 21, 2022. The bad news is that the slow change in weather conditions also increases the risk of flooding in the watersheds of Kettle, Catfish and Big Otter creeks.
Environment Canada is forecasting warmer temperatures and significant amounts of mixed precipitation as a large trough of low pressure moves into the county on Wednesday.
Total accumulation may be in the range of 25-to-35 millimeters (mm). The amount of water that will be released from the snowpack when it melts is estimated to be between 44-to-116 mm.
“(With) 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,” said Jennifer Dow, Water Conservation Supervisor for Kettle Creek Conservation Authority.
“Currently water levels throughout the watershed are normal, however, conditions can change quickly,” added Dow. “We are entering prime flood season where conditions can change rapidly.”
Dow said areas of open water have been observed around faster flowing bridges and culverts along Kettle Creek, with areas of thick ice covering slower moving segments of the creek. In Port Stanley, she said there is about 8-to-12 inches of ice cover between Southwold and Lake Erie.
“Despite small pockets of open water, the potential for ice-jam related flooding still exists,” added Dow. “ … 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,” she said. “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.”
Residents along Kettle Creek are advised to monitor their local conditions. People are advised to remove property from low-lying areas and to clear snow and ice from storm drains.
“Water levels are expected to rise and may continue to remain elevated during the latter part of this week,” said Peter Dragunas, Water Management Technician, Catfish Creek Conservation Authority. “Due to these increased adverse weather conditions, there is a potential for higher water and ice flows resulting in unsafe channel bank conditions and other unpredictable dangers around waterways within the Catfish Creek watershed.”
Ben Watson, of Long Point Region Conservation Authority, added: “This creates the potential for minor flooding in flood prone areas. Additionally, any watercourses with ice cover may have increased flooding through ice-jamming behind flow constrictions or bottlenecks.”