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Frazil ice concern prompts flood watch for Otonabee River, Jackson Creek in Peterborough

A flood watch has been issued for the Otonabee River has there is a concern of frazil ice forming. Global News file

Concerns about the possible formation of frazil ice have prompted Otonabee Conservation to issue a flood watch for the Otonabee River and Jackson Creek in Peterborough.

Gord Earle, flood forecasting and warning duty officer, says there is an increased risk of frazil ice (slush) on both bodies of water due to extreme cold weather forecasted for the region. Frazil ice can form when the cold air temperatures and wind chill combine to cause surface water to cool below 0 C but be unable to form a solid cover of ice because of the fast, moving water.

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“Extreme cold weather causing flooding has historically been observed in Jackson Creek and the Otonabee River but is possible anywhere that watercourses are uninsulated by ice cover and where flows are turbulent due to rapids or water falling over dams or waterfalls,” he said.

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Earle says frazil ice can flow downstream and rest against obstructions or in low-velocity areas and then accumulate.

“Where frazil ice accumulates, it is likely to cause a restriction of water flow downstream, thereby resulting in a rise of water, and possibly flooding, behind the frazil ice jam,” said Earle.

He advises residents and businesses along the shores of the Otonabee River and Jackson Creek to keep a close watch for frazil ice formation, accumulation and jamming.

The flood watch will remain in effect until Tuesday, Feb. 1.

Area water level information can be monitored online at:

On Thursday, Peterborough Public Health issued its fourth frostbite alert of the season.

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