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Will all this snow mean spring flooding?

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry says the size of the snowpack isn’t directly correlated with the risk of flooding.

Mara Kerry is a Partnership Specialist with the MNRF. She says even though it feels like there has been a lot of snow the current snowpack, which is the remaining snow on the ground, is around 85 cm for the Muskoka region. Snowfall statistics for the current season are not yet available.

Based on historical data the chances for flooding are somewhat moderate for the spring.

“It really depends on how rapidly it warms and if it does so in combination with rain,” Kerry explains.

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She says that the watershed through the region sees water begin its descent from Algonquin Park, eventually flowing its way into southern Georgian Bay.

“Imagine all the lakes along the way are bathtubs of various sizes,” she explains. “Some are bigger, some smaller, but when a tub fills quicker than its drain can let the water out, that is when flooding happens.”

The water falls some 350 to 400 feet between Algonquin Park and Georgian Bay.

If a lot of rain starts falling in the spring, the snowpack will actually help hold on to that water.

“The snow can absorb water,” Kerry says. “It’s not completely saturated.”

The ideal scenario is a few days of warmth broken up with colder days in between.

According to the Muskoka water management plan, prior to the (spring melt), water levels are lowered on various lakes in the watershed.

“So we do accommodate the additional water by drawing down the lakes prior to the melt,” she confirms. “But if you get extreme conditions with high temperatures combined with rain then that could be troublesome.”

All of this is to say, this is what is anticipated, but things can change quickly based on immediate forecasts and how wet a spring it becomes.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misquoted Mara Kerry on the flood risk during the coming spring.

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