Record snowfall has Muskoka residents looking ahead to spring thaw
Published Tuesday, February 4, 2014 6:47PM EST
In Muskoka, record snow so far this winter has many people already worried about the spring melt.
Frances Johnston lives Bracebridge where she's had her roof shovelled twice this winter. Johnston says the never-ending snow is a nuisance but what concerns her and her neighbours most is what might happen when all of this melts.
“I think everybody is on pins and needles wondering what will happen,” she says.
Last spring, Johnson's neighbourhood was underwater when the north branch of the Muskoka River overflowed its banks. Warm weather and heavy rain quickly melted the snow pack causing widespread flooding in Bracebridge, Huntsville, and Haliburton.
Most of the snow that has fallen this year is still on the ground and according to the Ministry of Natural Resources if you melt it all down it amounts to 130 millimetres or about 5.5 inches of water on average. That’s about 30 per cent more than average.
Ministry staff say they can’t stop a flood from happening but steps can be taken to reduce the impact of the spring thaw, like lowering water levels in lakes as far as they will go to make room for more water in the system.
Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith is concerned about a potential repeat of last year’s thaw and wants to stay in close contact with the ministry “to talk to them to make sure that we are as prepared as possible and they are as prepared as possible.’”
Huntsville Fire Chief Steve Hernen has seen his fair share of flooding along the Big East River in the past and is keeping a close eye on the snowpack numbers. He says everything depends on how quickly the snow melts.
“We are not alarmed, we are aware of it,” he says. “Like I said, it all depends on how quick it melts in the springtime as to what kinds of problems it's going to cause, if any.”
Everything will now depend on the weather as this snow melts. Environment Canada's seasonal forecast is favouring the odds of colder-than-normal temperatures for the next three months.