River Watch ends

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Flooding along the St. John River in Maugerville, 23 April 2019 (5th Canadian Division/Facebook)

The annual River Watch in New Brunswick has ended for the 2020 season.

The program was launched in early March and monitors water levels on rivers in the spring with emergency officials providing regular updates on the potential for flooding.

After historic flooding along the St. John River in both 2018 and 2019, thankfully this spring was much quieter with no major events recorded.

It’s a blessing in disguise since the province has been coping with the coronavirus pandemic with a state of emergency in place since 19 March.

NB River Watch Launches

Flooding in Fredericton, 24 Apr 2019 (GNB/Yerxa)

It’s a sure sign of spring…

New Brunswick’s annual program monitoring the status of rivers, ice jams and other flood issues officially launched today.

Historic flooding in 2018 and 2019 devastated many communities along the St. John River although individuals and municipal governments were better prepared last year.

Higher than normal water levels forced the closure of the Trans-Canada Highway between Fredericton and Moncton for almost a week and even longer the year before.

Officials say a variety of factors contribute to flooding including precipitation, snow pack, air temperatures and river ice.

Canada’s Top 10 Weather Stories 2019

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Hurricane Dorian damage in Halifax’s west end, 08 Sept 2019 (NS Power)

Canada is a land of weather extremes and this year has been no exception with frigid winter cold and stifling summer heat which brought wildfires, flooding, snowstorms and hurricanes.

Environment Canada has compiled its annual list for 2019:

  1. Another record Ottawa River flood
  2. Destructive hurricane season especially Dorian
  3. Snowy Prairie autumn
  4. Bitterly cold February nationwide
  5. Record heat continues in the Arctic
  6. Too dry early, too wet later on Prairies
  7. Blustery Halloween in the East
  8. Spring never arrives in Eastern Canada
  9. More flooding along the St. John River
  10. Fewer wildfires but more hectares burned

Here are some weather highlights for Atlantic Canada:

  • New Year’s Day takes Newfoundland by storm
  • January Maritime storm included every type of weather
  • Winter storm forces Moncton residents outside
  • February storm causes road closures in Labrador
  • Pre-Valentine’s storm across the Maritimes
  • March starts out stormy in Nova Scotia
  • Newfoundland’s icebergs please tourists and locals
  • October “weather bomb” drops lots of rain

Flooding eases along St. John River

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Flooding in Fredericton, 24 Apr 2019 (GNB/Yerxa)

The New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization says water levels continue to recede and are now below flood stage along most of the St. John River system.

Several roads remain closed and drivers are told to respect any barricades.

The provincial government has launched a disaster assistance program to help residents, businesses and municipalities deal with property damage from flooding.

Health officials are warning about harvesting wild, edible plants like fiddleheads near flooded waterways which may have been exposed to contaminants.

April 2019 – Wet and chilly

Glorious sunset in NE Moncton, 22 Apr 2019 (Dearing)

Spring can be the most disappointing season of the year in New Brunswick and April 2019 was no exception with cloudy, cool and often wet conditions.

Surprisingly, Greater Moncton was close to normal in temperature but double the average amount of rain fell along with slightly more snow than usual.

Melting snow and heavy precipitation led to more disastrous flooding along the St. John River – almost as bad as last year’s historic water levels.

Only one day was fully below freezing and while nights weren’t that cold, daytime highs often struggled to reach the double digits.

APRIL 2019 ALMANAC (at Greater Moncton Int’l Airport, 1981-2010)

Average HIGH  8.1°C

Average LOW  -1.0°C

AVERAGE  3.6°C (near normal)

Extreme HIGH  18.9°C (21 Apr)

Extreme LOW  -6.0°C (08 Apr)

RAINFALL  122.5 mm (about 100 percent ABOVE normal)

SNOWFALL  32.8 cm (slightly ABOVE normal)

(Data courtesy Environment Canada)

Flooding closes section of TCH

Flooding along the St. John River in Maugerville, 23 April 2019 (5th Canadian Division/Facebook)

For the second year in a row, floodwaters from the St. John River have forced the closure of the Trans Canada Highway between Moncton and Fredericton.

The New Brunswick Department of Transportation says drivers must detour at the Oromocto exit or at the River Glade exit and travel through Saint John.

The detour will add approximately 90 kilometres in each direction.

River Watch officials say water levels in Saint John are expected to reach last year’s historic marks by Friday and while now receding in Fredericton, the water will likely rise again by this weekend.

Military join flood emergency in N.B.

 
Floodwaters along the St. John River peaked in Fredericton today and are expected to peak in Saint John by Friday.

While the flooding is significant, River Watch officials in New Brunswick say levels are not expected to surpass last year’s historic numbers.

The provincial government has called in the Canadian Armed Forces from CFB Gagetown to help with soldiers assisting with sandbagging, evacuations and wellness checks.

Many roads especially in the Fredericton region have also been closed due to floodwaters and it could be days before some can reopen.

Canada’s Top 10 Weather Stories 2018

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Wildfires create smoky sky over downtown Calgary, AB, 14 Aug 2018 (Dearing)

Here is the annual list from Environment Canada:

  1. Record wildfires and smoky summer skies in the West
  2. Summer heat wave from East to West
  3. Tough growing season in the Prairies
  4. Powerful May winds impact Ontario and Quebec
  5. September tornadoes touch down in Ottawa-Gatineau
  6. Spring flooding in southern British Columbia
  7. Historic spring flooding along the St. John River Valley
  8. August deluge in Toronto
  9. Record cold start to a long winter nationwide
  10. Cold and stormy April for the East

 

NB flood by numbers

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Flooding forces closure of Randolph Bridge on west side of Saint John, 05 May 2018 (Twitter/City of Saint John)

Some residents are still recovering from the historic spring flooding along the southern St. John River and its tributaries.

Flood levels were elevated between 27 April and 18 May affecting Fredericton, Saint John and areas in between.

By the numbers (provided by Government of New Brunswick):

  • 12,000 – properties affected by flooding to some degree
  • 2,627 – residents who registered for disaster financial assistance
  • 1,871 – residents who asked for health and safety inspection of properties
  • 1,110 – households registered with the Canadian Red Cross
  • 4,000 – tonnes of debris from flood dumped at landfills

Floodwaters finally recede in N.B.

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(Top) Swollen St. John River, 02 May 2018,(Bottom) A more typical flow, 12 May 2016 (NASA Earth Observatory)

Water levels have dropped below flood stage in most areas of the St. John River in what has become the worst flooding event ever recorded in New Brunswick.

The Emergency Measures Organization says only in the Jemseg area will levels be just above flood stage.

The Trans Canada Highway between River Glade and Oromocto finally reopened Friday after being shut down for a week but dozens of roads remain closed due to flooding.

The Canadian Armed Forces has deployed 60 members to assist the provincial government with flood cleanup.

Almost 1,700 residents have registered with the Red Cross as evacuees and many who have returned home are finding heavy water damage to homes and cottages.