1.9 C
Saturday, February 22, 2020
Connecting Our Communities

Record rainfall in the region

Watershed sees 100mm, but few flooding incidents in Woolwich and Wellesley townships


News Briefs

Woolwich nixes traffic islands Displeased with the troublesome pedestrian islands installed during the Region of Waterloo’s reconstruction of Church Street...

20-year-old agreement causes a stir

An Elmira environmentalist’s “smoking gun” appears to be shooting blanks. Al Marshall, a long-time critic of cleanup efforts at...

Forks up to farmers on well-timed Agriculture Day

February is not the most obvious time to celebrate agriculture in Canada. But that’s...

EDSS student wins $5,000 scholarship to pursue his university education

Max Campbell’s dreams of perhaps one day making it to space got a down-to-Earth boost last week in the...


clear sky
1.9 ° C
3.9 °
-0.6 °
50 %
1 %
5 °
5 °
5 °
3 °
7 °

Unusual winter weather walloped local areas as well as Waterloo Region this past weekend, with record levels of rainfall across the Grand River watershed.

Flows in the Grand River running through West Montrose reached the lower threshold of Warning Zone Level 3, said fire chief Dale Martin. Any higher would have resulted in flooded homes.

Portions of the watershed saw an upwards of 100 mm of rain. Martin and Woolwich Township flood coordinators were out until the early morning hours monitoring conditions.

“We had no homes directly [flooded]; we had a lot of water on property,” noted Martin. “It was very, very close … we were watching that. At about 4:30 [Sunday] morning, we noticed that it was starting to recede a bit … then we decided to maybe go and get some sleep. We were very fortunate.”

He added there were several cases of sump pump failures in town throughout the weekend. In addition, the low-level bridge on Three Bridges Road saw nearly four feet of water over the top and remained closed well into the week.

Other local road closures that have since reopened included Glasgow Street and Misty River Drive in Conestogo. Chalmers Forrest Road from Schummer to Ament Line in Wellesley Township was also closed due to the high water levels along the roadway.

Local parks and trails were also affected, such as Bolender Park in Elmira and the trail along Albert Erb Park in Wellesley. Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) staff came out to Wellesley village to manually operate the dam to provide more flow, which is atypical for this time of year.

“We did see record-setting rainfall across the entire watershed,” noted GRCA spokesperson Cam Linwood. “This event was the highest January rainfall total in recorded history.”

The majority of that downpour fell between the central portion of the watershed between Cambridge and the New Hamburg area, which received 80-100 mm of rain. The situation became so overwhelming that Wilmot Township residents were using canoes to traverse town.

“This was definitely a very unusual event. We generally don’t see significant rainfall in January,” noted Linwood. “In the case of this event, certainly not of this substantial volume.”

The worst is over now, with the event having moved out of the province earlier in the week. The GRCA issued five separate flood warnings, noting that it was a very unique event to try to predict.

“It was a challenging one to forecast because of the uncertainty of how much would fall as rain, and how much would fall as freezing rain,” said Linwood. “River flows ended up higher than initially forecasted because we did end up getting more rain than freezing rain.”

Many watershed communities saw river flows that were roughly equal to the flooding in June 2017.

There was luckily just a light snowpack across the watershed; if there had been a higher volume of snow, combined with the temperatures and that amount of rainfall, there would have been even greater flooding associated with the snowmelt, said Linwood.

It’s best to remain cautious, however, as a large amount of debris, such as full-sized trees and branches, were washed into the river in the aftermath. The GRCA advised the public to stay away from waterways at this time.

“The important part is reinforcing the safety piece around flows are still up, water temperatures are extremely cold this time of year, and then with that additional factor of debris in the river, it’s certainly not a safe place to be right now,” said Linwood.

“We want to really reinforce that people stay back even though it is quite a spectacle to see.”

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to The Observer's online community. Pseudonyms are not permitted. By submitting a comment, you accept that The Observer has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner The Observer chooses. Please note that The Observer does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our submission guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.


Under the auctioneer’s gavel to provide help Down Under

After seeing the devastation from the Australian wildfires, a local art collector sold the first painting she ever bought on Saturday to help raise money for relief efforts there. Nancy...

In Print. Online. In Pictures. In Depth.

You obviously love community journalism. Thanks for visiting today. If you have a great local story, let us know.

Sugar Kings win three games, clinch first place

In need of just one more win to clinch first place in the Midwestern Conference, the Elmira Sugar Kings claimed all three games...

Jacks take 3-2 series lead into deciding weekend vs. New Hamburg

The Wellesley Applejacks are up 3-2 in their best-of-seven series against the New Hamburg Firebirds, having claimed two of this week’s three games in...

EDSS performers take Broadway under the sea

By Steve Kannon skannon@woolwichobserver.com The tropics, under the sea or otherwise, seem like a much better place...
- Advertisement -