Woolwich Township truly weathered the storm in regards to flooding in the region last week, coming out of the ordeal relatively unscathed despite rain and a sudden spike in temperatures. Other areas in the Grand River watershed were hit a little harder.
The Grand River Conservation Authority issued a series of flood warnings beginning March 13. Local areas included the Grand River in West Montrose and the Conestogo River in St. Jacobs, peaking in warning zone 1 last Friday morning.
Locally, only the surface-level bridge on Three Bridges Road in St. Jacobs needed to be shut down March 14 due to excess water and ice.
“The low level bridge on Three Bridges road actually closes quite regularly at this time of year,” said GRCA spokesperson Cam Linwood. “It is a bridge with relatively low capacity when it comes to river flows. So there are gates that are permanently installed there and it is sort of one of the first areas that are impacted when the Conestogo River starts rising.”
Woolwich fire chief Dale Martin noted the bridge is often shut down even for a rain forecast. The bridge opened up again on Monday morning after ice was cleared by township staff. While West Montrose dealt with plenty of large puddles, things could have been much worse.
“West Montrose – they dodged a bullet there,” said Martin. “The ice went out before the water really came up too high. So there was no flooding in West Montrose at all. There was no ice or anything on the road – the river behaved. The weather was such that it kind of
Other areas in the region weren’t so fortunate. Several roads in New Hamburg were shut down due to flooding, including Milton Street and Lisbon Road. A flood watch was also issued for Cambridge, Brantford, Ayr, Drayton, Grand Valley, Caledonia and Cayuga. Blackbridge Road in Cambridge is another example in the region of a frequently flood-impacted bridge.
Low-lying areas in close proximity to bodies of water are particularly vulnerable. Anyone in those areas should take proper precautions in case of future flooding, including preparing an emergency plan and a 72-hour emergency kit.
In the meantime however, Linwood says that this week should be better off weather-wise.
“What we are seeing heading into this week especially is a more diurnal type pattern, and that’s essentially optimal maple syrup weather,” said Linwood. “It’s good for melting snow and ice on the landscape as well. So diurnal weather is essentially warmer days with plenty of sunshine, followed by cooler nights that drop below freezing. So it’s essentially turning on and off a tap.”
Since the weather can be so unpredictable, Linwood was not able to say whether or not flooding was in the forecast for the future.
“There is still quite a bit of snow and ice on the landscape, especially on the northern reaches of the watershed,” he said. “Depending on the type of spring we have will be indicative of the level of flooding that occurs.”
Ice fishing is now closed at all GRCA conservation sites and major reservoirs including Woolwich, Conestogo, Belwood, Guelph, Luther, Laurel and Shade’s Mills were used to store runoff.