Flooding could be an issue in Muskoka, says emergency management coordinator
There's a hint of spring in the air today.
It's finally warm enough for a bit of the snow to melt and that's good news for people who want snowbanks to disappear. But some are warning that a quick melt could spell disaster.
In Muskoka today, the snow is high and so is the risk of flooding.
For Chris McDermott, the melt can't come soon enough. His business on Highway 11 is open but barely noticeable, hidden by huge snow banks.
“We don’t have a lot of visibility right now. Many drivers don’t see us until the last minute,” he says.
Signs of a spring thaw are starting to show. The temperature climbed to 3C today and is expected to be even higher tomorrow. Rain is also in the forecast for the next couple of days and that has Sarah Hall worried about the melt.
Her home was flooded last spring when the Muskoka River swelled. After spending $2,000 in repairs she’s praying for a slow melt.
“I'm really hoping we have that slow gradual melt. I know the water levels will rise but hopefully not as high as last year,” she says.
Fire Prevention Officer and Community Emergency Management Coordinator for Huntsville Mike Vadlja is monitoring the snow pact for the Muskoka area.
“We have 116 mm of water in the snow pack,” he says. That's about five inches of water that will flow into rivers when the snow melts. Vadlja says the water in that snow pack is much higher than average and depending on how quickly it melts, flooding could be a big concern.
“Flooding could be an issue because of the amount snow. Hopefully we will get a little a bit of thaw during the day and freezing at night,” he says.
With more than 450 centimeters of snow falling this winter in Muskoka, communities across the region are now bracing for the melt. Matthew Hartney is in charge of Huntsville’s public works department and says crews have been out for the last two weeks preparing roads and storm sewers for the thaw.
“They're getting out to clogged culverts, making sure storm drains are clear of all the snow so that when the melt does happen it will be smooth and we limit the flood,” he says.
But there is good news for now. With below-freezing temperatures expected later this week the melt is expected to at least start slowly.
Conservation authorities say as long as temperatures drop below freezing at night, melting will slow down and the risk of flooding will be reduced.