Ice buildup on a window after freezing rain. (Photo by Matt Weverink)

Flood watch continues, fallout from freezing rain is unclear

A flood watch remains in effect for areas along the Thames River in Chatham-Kent and it’s not clear yet how all of the ice rain and rain will affect water levels.

A special statement was issued by officials with the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority Monday afternoon, warning of the potential for more flooding along the river with an ice jam still in place at Lighthouse Cove and up to 25 millimetres of mixed precipitation in the forecast for Tuesday.

In an email to Blackburn News late Tuesday morning, Water Management Supervisor Jason Wintermute said even with ice and rain coming down, there is still a delay between when the rain falls and when the water makes its way into local creeks.

“The water in the local creeks has to make its way to the river… then the water has to accumulate in the river,” said Wintermute. “It can often be four hours before one even starts to see a rise in water levels on local creeks and a good 12-18 [hours] before water levels peak on the creeks.”

Wintermute said it could be up to 30 hours from the time the precipitation falls to the time that officials see impacts of the creeks on the river. Because of that, he’s expecting the next watershed update to be released sometime Wednesday.

Monday afternoon’s release from the LTVCA said while water levels are expected to rise as a result of the precipitation, but they are not expected to exceed the highest levels observed last week.

The greatest possibility of flooding, or lack thereof, is directly tied to the ice jam, which officials are calling “difficult to predict.” It’s possible that the ice jam will move upstream and out into Lake St. Clair safely as the water levels rise, but it’s also possible that the ice will jam up again, causing more severe flooding.

In the meantime, residents are being encouraged to watch for possible flooding and to take extra caution to avoid the river, ditches and streams because the combination of slippery banks, broken or unstable ice, and fast moving cold water can be very dangerous.