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Rainy weather ahead, but flood fears at bay for now

Conservation Authority says conditions look good, but could change in a hurry
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While it's going to get warm and rainy Thursday, Greater Sudbury isn't at risk of flooding, at least not yet, says Conservation Sudbury. (File)

With rainy skies and temperatures around 7 C expected on Thursday, things are about to get sloppy in Greater Sudbury as the massive piles of snow still on the ground begin to melt.

But Conservation Sudbury says sloppy doesn't mean residents should fear flooding, since the forecast for next few days after that is for colder temperatures.

“If we thought there was going to be flooding we would have already called flood watch,” said Carl Jorgensen, GM of Conservation Sudbury. “But we're not there.”

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for Greater Sudbury, warning that heavy rain – between 15-25 mm — Thursday, and warm temperatures will likely lead to water pooling on some streets, especially in low-lying areas.

Jorgensen said we have so much snow still on the ground, it will absorb much of the rain, creating messy conditions far short of a flood. 

“I think that what's going to happen tomorrow,” he said. “That's not to say it's not going to get sloppy and nasty if it rains that much, but we've got so much snow out there. And it's a very short warming period and then it's getting cold again right away. And so what's going to happen we anticipate is that the snow that's out there is going to absorb a lot of the rain.”

While more rain is forecast Friday, things will freeze up overnight, with temperatures dipping to -7 C and staying below freezing for the rest of the weekend. Jorgensen said staff will go out Friday to check conditions, but unless the forecast changes, nothing drastic should happen.

“Again, that's not to say it's not going to get sloppy,” he said. “There's going to be puddles all over the roads, but that's not flooding. That's just water accumulating and ponding on the on the roadways.”

The long-term outlook until the end of March is also positive, he said, with temperatures a bit above zero during the day, and a bit under overnight.

“The end of March looks like ideal conditions, where you get that on again off again. It's not a consistent melt. That's about the best situation we could possibly hope for.

“If Thursday's weather would like, happen four days in a row, with plus 8, plus 10, and then some rain on top of it, it'd be a different story.”

One of the conditions the Conservation Authority keeps a close eye on are water levels in area rivers, which is where the spring runoff ends up. So far, things are normal.

“They've got capacity to take the water, especially with a one day event (Thursday),” Jorgensen said.

While flooding isn't a major concern right now, he said it's important for people to remember to stay clear of area rivers, which begin flowing much quicker with higher banks as the snow melt quickens.

“We try to get that message out there for people,” Jorgensen said. “So keep kids and pets and all that sort of stuff away because it is March Break. Stay away from the water courses.”

Flooding safety information from Greater Sudbury:

  • City crews crews and contractors have been actively thawing frozen culverts, clearing storm grates and removing snow from ditches to address ponding issues. The city will continue to address snow bank removal at intersections and major roadways. With the onset of rain and milder temperatures, there are things you can do to help reduce the potential of basement flooding:
  • Check your sump pump to ensure it is operating correctly.
  • Check your sump pit to ensure it is not blocked by debris.
  • Reposition your downspout, if possible, to direct water away from the foundation and neighbouring properties.
  • Assist city crews if possible by ensuring catch basins near your property are clear of snow, ice, leaves and debris.
  • Move valuables stored on basement floors to a safe location if you are concerned about basement flooding.
  • In the case of basement flooding, be sure to protect yourself from electrical shock. Never enter standing water unless you’re sure the main power has been shut off. Contact your hydro and gas utility providers for disconnects, if necessary. 
  • The City of Greater Sudbury offers a flood preparedness package and information on the importance of a 72-hour portable emergency kit at www.greatersudbury.ca/emergencymanagement
  • Streams continue to flow through the winter and will now be starting to thaw. For your safety, stay away from waterways and educate children on the dangers of fast flowing water. 

Residents can visit www.conservationsudbury.ca for updated flood advisory information.




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Darren MacDonald

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