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Quinte Conservation Reports Thick Ice Cover on Most Area Rivers

Ice MonitoringQuinte Conservation staff have measured ice as thick as half a metre in some spots on the Moira River. Water Resources Manager Bryon Keene says, “This year’s long cold spell has resulted in thick ice cover over most area rivers. This is unlike other years when many areas on local waterways have remained open. This does not mean that all ice is safe. Ice conditions can change rapidly on rivers. We are urging the public to use extreme care and caution on all ice in local waterways especially where water would normally be open.”

Keene explains, “Quinte Conservation staff are out all through the winter monitoring ice and snow conditions. The data we collect is used for flood forecasting during the spring thaw. Recent snowfalls have added significantly to the depths in the upper regions of our watershed. We are now close to normal conditions for snow cover for this time of year. The spring runoff depends on three factors; water content in the snow, temperatures, and rain. Staff are working hard to analyze current conditions and historical trends as they work on forecasting this year’s spring freshet.”

The extensive ice cover in area rivers present potential problems for ice jamming in the spring freshet. The thick, hard ice can lead to higher risk of ice jams during the freshet if river levels rise quickly and move ice downstream. A benefit of the extensive ice cover is the risk of frazil ice flooding is reduced. Frazil ice is sticky, slushy ice that forms in fast flowing water in very cold temperatures. Frazil ice can collect under ice sheets or adhere to bridge abutments or any natural materials under the water causing a river to overspill its banks.

Cold temperatures are expected to persist throughout the week and most of the rivers have an insulating cover of ice that prevents the formation of frazil ice. The areas still exposed to the cold are at higher risk of forming ice dams that can lead to nuisance flooding.

Quinte Conservation is a community-based environmental protection agency. It serves 18 municipalities in the watersheds of the Moira, Napanee and Salmon Rivers and Prince Edward County. It provides cost-effective environmental expertise and leadership. Quinte Conservation’s main goal is to create a sustainable ecosystem where people and nature live in harmony.

For more information:
Jennifer May-Anderson
Jennifer May-Anderson
Communications Manager
(613) 968-3434 ext. 125
(613) 354-3312 ext. 125

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