Conservation Authority urges vigilance regarding potential flooding

By Kirk Winter

With parts of Kawartha lakes still digging out from a record snow storm that struck last weekend, concerns have been expressed by federal, provincial and local authorities regarding rising temperatures and rainfall predicted at times to be heavy this weekend.

A provincial Watershed Conditions Statement has been issued for southern and northeastern Ontario (which includes Kawartha Lakes) by the Surface Water Monitoring Centre of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

The statement will be in effect until Jan. 1.

Currently, watershed conditions are normal for the Kawartha Conservation watershed.

“Daytime high temperatures over much of southern Ontario on Thursday December 29 to Sunday January 1st are expected to be +5 deg C or higher, with overnight temperatures remaining above freezing. A warm air mass will bring drizzle, showers, and periods of rain to southern Ontario, with accumulated precipitation amounts from 10 to 20 mm over southern Ontario,” the statement reads.

The statement continues adding, “widespread flooding is not anticipated, however water levels and flows in watercourses across the Kawartha Conservation watershed jurisdiction are expected to rise and flows to increase rapidly during and after the rainfall period.”

“All watercourses have the potential to be dangerous at this time of year,” the statement warns, “and Kawartha Conservation is warning all residents to stay a safe distance from all streams and rivers, as well as water structures such as bridges, culverts, and dams, and that lake ice conditions are unsafe in many areas. Riverbanks can be slippery during rain events, especially with snow and ice already on the ground. Children should be warned of the dangerous conditions, and supervised while outside.”

Northern tributaries prone to flooding, such as the Burnt and Gull River are already monitored by staff from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF).

“Kawartha Conservation will continue monitoring local watercourses and notify the public and municipalities within its watershed jurisdiction of any changes,” the statement says. “We are in close communication with partner agencies such as the Trent Severn Waterway, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and neighbouring Conservation Authorities during all flood situations.”

Environment Canada concurs and has issued a rainfall warning effective 1:30 pm on December 30 for many areas in central Ontario including Kawartha Lakes. The warning says “that rain, heavy at times, is expected. The frozen ground has a reduced ability to absorb this rainfall. Total rainfall amounts of 20 to 35mm are expected through to Saturday. Rain is expected to come to an end on Saturday evening.”

The warning from Environment Canada concludes, “heavy downpours can cause flash floods and water pooling on roads” potentially making for a very interesting arrival of 2023 right across Kawartha Lakes.

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