UTRCA Flood Bulletins – What are they?
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The Upper Thames River Conservation Authority, Ministry of Natural Resources and conservation authorities across Ontario introduced new flood message terminology in February 2012. These changes ensure these agencies are all using terminology that is consistent and in line with weather terminology used by Environment Canada, the Weather Network and other agencies.
The UTRCA issues four types of flood messages.
1. Watershed Conditions Statement
These are general notices of weather conditions that could pose a risk to personal safety or that have the potential to lead to flooding.
Watershed Conditions Statement – Water Safety – Issued during periods of minor flooding to report on general watershed conditions to flood coordinators, and to remind the general public of general river safety issues.
Watershed Conditions Statement – Flood Outlook – Early notice of the potential for flooding based on weather forecasts calling for heavy rain, snow melt, high winds or other conditions that could result in high runoff.
2. Flood Watch
Flooding is possible in specific watercourses or municipalities. Municipalities, emergency services and individual landowners in flood-prone areas should prepare.
A Flood Watch message describes watershed conditions, the potential impact and may include a forecast of water levels. Municipal flood coordinators should initiate a check on their flood or emergency plans, monitor potential problem areas and, if required, remain on stand-by alert. Municipal flood coordinators may also advise specific properties at this stage.
3. Flood Warning
This is the most serious type of message: flooding is imminent or already occurring in specific watercourses or municipalities.
A Flood Warning message may include a call for a specific action to be taken by flood coordinators and/or emergency services, e.g., closing road and bridges, activating the emergency response plan, warning residents in specific areas or, in some areas, evacuation.
4. Special Bulletin
If the Thames River within the City of London reaches the level at which a boating ban is to be issued within the City, then the UTRCA informs the City of London Police so that they may implement the ban and inform the media.
Getting the Message
The UTRCA distributes flood messages to municipal flood coordinators and other agencies throughout the watershed:
• Municipal Flood Coordinators
• County & Health Unit Flood Coordinators
• Neighbouring Conservation Authorities
• Ministry of Natural Resources Flood Forecasting Centre
• Local Police and Fire Departments
• Local First Nations