MVCA monitoring spring flood conditions

WEST CARLETON – They have one indicator, but it will take more information than that before the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority (MVCA) determines what kind of flooding will occur this spring.

Just less than two weeks ago, the MVCA said it was expecting above average flooding this spring.

MVCA Water Resources Engineering Director John Price says the authority is “monitoring daily,” a number of indicators as the warmer weather approaches.

As previously reported, this year’s ice pack is big and thick.

“You have to measure the weight and depth,” he told West Carleton Online today (March 15). “Sometimes the weight is more important. The water content in the snow is well above average, so the potential is there.”

But there are more factors at play.

“It really depends on if you get rain on that snow before it melts and how sustained that rain is,” Price said.

As well as regular measurements of the snow, the MVCA has rain gauges in several areas around the watershed they are also watching.

West Carleton residents are very sensitive to the spring thaw being only two years removed from the worst flooding most residents can recall. In 2017, sustained, record rainfall caused significant damage to communities and homeowners situated along the Ottawa River, especially Constance Bay.

Despite the record-breaking rainfall, Price says “to our knowledge,” there has never been a 100-year flood in West Carleton.

“Constance Bay in 2017 was close to, but not quite, a 50-year flood,” he said.

Price says the only 100-year flood in this area he knows of occurred in 1998, upstream of the Mississippi River.

While the snow content is certainly one indicator of the coming flood conditions, there are several others that help in the MVCA making its predictions.

“We can’t definitively say one way or the other at this point,” Price said. “We’ll have to wait and watch what Mother Nature gives us over the next few weeks.”

Either way, the MVCA recommends you have your flood plan prepared and ready to go.