NEW: FLOOD WATCH now in effect

Heavy rain expected over the weekend has prompted The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry's Pembroke District office to issue a flood watch for Renfrew County.

The MNRF says the watch will be in effect until Thursday, April 25.

In addition to the 50mm of rain that's forecast for the weekend, there's as much as 200mm of water equivalent in the snow pack that has yet to melt, according to the ministry.

"These values are above average to well above average for this time of year" notes the news release issued on Thursday afternoon.

"The forecast warm temperatures and precipitation are likely to further degrade the snowpack and river ice, produce significant runoff, and further increase levels and flows", it adds.

"Major Flooding Levels" Expected Along Ottawa River Downstream From Pembroke

There’s also a prediction that we could see "major flooding levels" along the Ottawa River downstream from Pembroke in the coming days.

The Ottawa River Regulating Board issued that warning on Thursday morning, saying the rain we expect this weekend and the melting snowpack .. could bring river levels as high as they were during the floods of 2017 ..  in areas like Westmeath, Lapasse and Fort Coulonge.

Officials say there’s not as much risk upstream from Pembroke because reservoirs in the north can still hold water back, but the rivers that feed the Ottawa River downstream from Pembroke are a big concern.

“The flood risk is not significant for Pembroke and above at this point”, regulating board spokesperson Michael Sarich told Star 96.7.

“It’s going to be, kind of, Westmeath down through Lapasse, and the Noir and the Coulonge Rivers are expected to rise quite sharply.  Of course, it’s going to depend on where the most rainfall comes”, Sarich added.

Environment Canada has the entire region under a rainfall warning, with 50 mm of rain expected between Thursday afternoon and Saturday.

Wet snow may also be mixed in with the precipitation on Friday.

Comparing the outlook to the flood of 2017 is just being realistic, according to Sarich.

“It’s going to depend on precipitation, but levels are absolutely going to be rising quickly.  Increases are going to be quite dramatic over the weekend, and people need to be aware”, Sarich said.

Updates will be issued over the weekend at http://ottawariver.ca

The MNR will also update its flood watch if necessary, at http://ontario.ca/flooding

Roads & Washouts

You can expect some road washouts and soft road conditions around the Ottawa Valley in the coming days as well.

Pembroke has already closed some flood-prone streets because of soft conditions, adding Indian Lane and Miller Road to the list today.

Some side and back roads around Renfrew County are already experiencing minor washouts as snow melt from the forests creeps over unpaved surfaces.