Province monitors 4 ice jams ahead of River Watch launch

The province's River Watch program doesn't officially start until Monday, but officials are already watching four ice jams.

New Brunswick's Emergency Measures Organization held a news conference on Thursday to discuss this year's program.

EMO director Greg MacCullum said they're monitoring one ice jam on the Saint John River in the Florenceville-Bristol area, another on the Tobique River, a third on the Kennebecasis River and a fourth on the Hammond River.

But MacCallum said none of the jams are holding back water completely.

Once the program starts on Monday, MacCallum said officials will provide residents with information on the status of rivers, potential risks of ice jams, and other flood issues across the province.

Every morning, officials will receive a weather briefing, collect data from various sources, and use that information for river modeling and forecasting.

Winter has been a 'rollercoaster' of weather: meteorologist

Environment Canada meteorologist Claude Côté said this winter saw the latest freeze-up of the Saint John River in the Fredericton area since 1825.

Côté said ice began appearing on the river on Dec. 16, but it didn't freeze over until Feb. 2., and the ice let go on Feb. 27.

He said the ideal weather conditions are above freezing temperatures during the day, below freezing at night and no significant rainfall events.

Officials said the latest snow-water equivalent numbers show above normal levels in the northeast, near normal levels in the northwest, higher than normal levels in central regions, and below normal levels along the Fundy coast.

Snow-water equivalent numbers determine how much water there would be if all of the snow were to melt at once.

MacCallum said it's impossible to predict if and where flooding might occur, but residents living along rivers and streams should stay informed and plan what to do just in case.

He also encouraged residents who spot an ice jam to report it to EMO by calling 1-800-561-4034.

MacCallum said the River Watch program will continue until ice is gone from the rivers and water levels return to benchmark levels.