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Minimal flooding in Maritimes after days of rain

A flooded road in Dieppe, New Brunswick Saturday
A flooded road in Dieppe, New Brunswick Saturday

Alexandra Pope, staff writer

March 14, 2011 — Localized flooding was reported after parts of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia received more than 30 mm of rain Friday and Saturday, but officials say no serious problems have cropped up.

Ice jams are a concern in the springtime
Ice jams are a concern in the springtime

Karl Wilmot, River Watch co-ordinator with New Brunswick Emergency Measures, said the agency was initially concerned that steady rain combined with mild temperatures would cause the ice cover on the province's rivers to deteriorate rapidly, leading to possible ice jams.

However, as of midday on Saturday, River Watch's gauges showed no significant fluctuations in the water levels on major waterways.

“The bulletin that we issued Friday was for the deterioration of the ice cover ... and at this time we've got no indication that has taken place,” Wilmot said.

Some roads in the Moncton and Dieppe areas were covered with water from overflowing culverts, but there were no reports of homes being flooded.

St. Stephen reported the most rain: 55 mm over two days. Saint John reported 31 mm, Moncton received 18 mm; and Fredericton, 20 mm.

Localized flooding was also reported in Pictou County, Nova Scotia. The province saw more significant rainfall, with 33 mm recorded in Halifax, 27 mm in Yarmouth and 24 mm in parts of the Annapolis Valley.

New Brunswickers should always be prepared for flooding, official says
New Brunswickers should always be prepared for flooding, official says

Bring on the spring, but gradually

While the potential for a significant spring flood has some residents on high alert, Bryn Jones, a meteorologist at The Weather Network, says it may not be as bad as some think.

“The Saint John River may not have quite as high a risk for flooding compared to the long term average due to the prediction for near to slightly below average precipitation and near normal temperatures despite the deeper than average snowpack there,” notes Jones.

Wilmot says that authorities are hoping temperatures will co-operate and bring on the spring gradually in New Brunswick, especially in the southeast of the province, which has seen record amounts of snow this winter.

The ideal scenario is mild days and freezing nights, which facilitates a slow release of snow and ice melt.

“Those are the kinds of temperatures the maple sugar producers are looking for because it increases their sap production, and it’s the same kind of weather that gradually diminishes the snow and ice cover on the rivers,” Wilmot said.

A fast and continuous melt would mean that the water would get into the Saint John River, but would be unable to get out because the tide at Saint John is a controlling factor, says Wilmot.

So far, the weather has been co-operating, but Wilmot urged residents to be prepared for flooding at any time.

“You can’t let your guard down,” he said. “It is spring, it is New Brunswick, we’ve had snow this winter, we’ve had ice.”

With files from the Canadian Press and Andrea Stockton

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