Possible frazil ice prompts flood watch for Trent-Severn Waterway in Peterborough area

Click to play video: 'Frigid temperatures in Peterborough area set in this week'
Frigid temperatures in Peterborough area set in this week
After what has been a mild winter so far, the cold is finally settling in this week in much of Ontario. With temperatures plummeting below the freezing mark, Germain Ma takes a look at what people can do to be prepared and stay safe – Jan 15, 2024

Concerns about the formation of frazil ice have prompted a flood watch for the Trent-Severn Waterway and connected waterbodies in the Peterborough, Ont., area.

On Monday, Otonabee Conservation reported that water levels on the Trent-Severn Water are higher due to December’s mild weather, rainfall and snowmelt.

“As increased flows enter the Kawartha Lakes, water levels will increase and result in potential breakup of ice cover and ice jams,” said Neil MacFarlane, flood forecasting and warning duty officer. “Flows on the Otonabee River have increased to convey the excess water within the system.”

MacFarlane says with colder temperatures this week, along with a lack of ice cover and turbulent flows on the Otonabee River, there is a chance for the generation of frazil ice (slush), which could lead to flooding.

Frazil ice can form when the cold air temperatures and wind chill combine to cause surface water to cool below 0 C, but the surface water is unable to form a solid cover of ice because of the fast, moving water.

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The conservation authority’s jurisdiction includes Peterborough, sections of the City of Kawartha Lakes and the townships of Asphodel-Norwood, Cavan Monaghan, Douro-Dummer, Otonabee-South Monaghan and Selwyn as well as the Municipality of Trent Hills.

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MacFarlane advises residents and businesses along the shores of the Otonabee River, Kawartha Lakes, Rice Lake and the Trent River to Hastings to keep a close watch for frazil ice formation, accumulation and jamming.

The flood watch will remain in effect until Friday, Jan. 26.

Area water level information can be monitored online at:

Lower Trent Conservation

Also on Monday, Lower Trent Conservation issued a flood watch for the Trent River (Hastings to Trenton).

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The conservation authority says water levels along local creeks and streams and the Trent River have been “slightly below average” for this time of year.

The colder weather could lead to frazil ice, resulting in increased water levels in localized areas, the authority reports.

“The Trent‐Severn Waterway is making operational changes to water control structures in the affected areas in an effort to moderate rising water levels,” the authority stated. “As a result, fluctuating water levels will be experienced during these operations.”

Daily water level updates are available at the conservation authority’s website or if you have concerns, call (613) 394‐4829. Concerns about water levels on the Trent River can be brought to Parks Canada at (705)‐750‐4950 or by email at


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