Fredericton Flood Watch 2009
As the snow begins to melt in the Great White North, thanks to the great Fredericton flood of 2008, one question that has been on people’s minds here in New Brunswick is whether or not there will be extensive flooding on the Saint John River again this year. The images of the floods and fear of possible flooding in Fargo, North Dakota and in the Red River valley in Manitoba remind us of what we experienced in Fredericton, Woodstock, Edmunston and all along the Saint John river a short year ago.
Just like 2008?
Thanks to the NOAA website, we can examine the current snow depth and snow water equivalent for the western portion of the Saint John watershed. We can also compare the amount to last year’s record amounts as a benchmark. Luckily it appears that the snow depth and water content is less than last year even though they are both above normal in most areas.
There are still several additional factors which could affect the possibilities of flooding this spring. Rainfall and the quickness of the snow melt can have significant impacts on the water levels in the river. Last year’s floods were caused in part by a large storm which dropped over 100 mm of rain in the upper Saint John river valley in northern NB, Maine and eastern Quebec just as the snow melting was taking place. Another large storm of similar magnitude or a quick warming trend could quickly increase the river’s water levels and make all previous predictions useless.
And the rain falls
The last weekend (April 4-5) brought some heavy rains over New Brunswick and the weather forecast for the rest of the week is calling for more rain which does not bode well for keeping the river under flood levels.
Due to the recent rain and warm weather, there is already some flooding being caused by ice jams in the upper Saint John river valley near Hartland. Tributaries such as the Nashwaak and Oromocto river are also nearing flood levels. The water level in the Saint John river at Fredericton has also risen dramatically in the last few days going from 2.5 m to a current reading of near 5 m with a forecasted rise to 5.8 m by Wednesday. Flood stage is defined as 6.5 m while the high water level during last year’s major flood was 8.36 meters.
Hopefully the river will crest near flood levels and spare people living along the river a lot of grief.