New Brunswick flood forecast shows favourable conditions for Easter long weekend

Flood forecasters in New Brunswick are keeping a close eye on the Saint John River but say the forecast for the Easter long weekend looks favourable.

Geoffrey Downey, a spokesman for the province's River Watch program, says a massive ice jam at Perth-Andover, near the border with Maine, remains in place but is starting to erode.

"There was a big channel running through it yesterday, which is good, so it's not holding back any water," Downey said Thursday.

He said, however, that there have been reports of people on the ice jam taking photos.

"We can't stress enough how dangerous that is, and (it) becomes dangerous for anyone who might have to go to rescue them," Downey said.

He said people need to stay away from the riverbanks. "The water is full of debris and incredibly cold. It is moving very quickly and poses a significant threat," he said.

Despite a forecast of rain, the only location expected to reach flood stage this weekend is the village of Gagetown. Downey said the water is expected to hit flood stage there Saturday and Sunday before beginning to recede.

Forecasters conducted a survey of the snow pack in the woods in the upper river basin this week, and Downey said the amount of snow is decreasing quickly.

He said the average depth measured this week was 29.7 centimetres. That's compared to the average for the same week since 1984 of 56.1 centimetres.

Downey said despite the lower figure, the potential for flooding still exists, depending on how fast the snow melts, rainfall amounts, and possible ice jams.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 1, 2021.