Friday, December 19, 2014

Weather forecast still big question

The Emergency Control Group was to meet again early this afternoon to discuss contingency plans in the wake of conflicting weather forecasts.
But it already decided this morning to resume sandbagging along the riverfront beginning at 8 a.m. tomorrow.

“We’re just trying to get the message out to the public that anyone who can come out, we’d greatly appreciate it,” said Patrick Briere, the town’s Public Information Office.
He added they’ll possibly be sandbagging on Sunday, as well.
Briere said volunteers are asked to check in at the fire department’s command trailer and register with personnel on-site.
“We’re looking to reinforce what we’ve already done to ensure the protection of the critical infrastructure and the properties along that area,” he explained.
Given the conflicting weather forecasts, Briere said they’re just being proactive in how to manage this flood emergency.
“We don’t want to shy away from that so we’re just going to move ahead with the sandbagging efforts and to replenish the stockpile of sandbags prepared in case we do get to that worst-case scenario,” he remarked.
The Ministry of Natural Resources issued a revised flood warning yesterday afternoon—forecasting that Rainy Lake was expected to rise roughly 32-52 cm (13-20 inches) over the next seven days based on the assumption of significant rainfall.
The Lake of the Woods Control Board also had issued a special bulletin yesterday warning of the possible significant rainfall ahead.
“If the forecasts are accurate, the additional rainfall will result in a swift rise in inflow to rivers and lakes across the basin as conditions are already nearly saturated in many areas,” it stressed.
Since then, however, the forecasts have changed—with not as much rain predicted as initially anticipated.
“The precipitation forecast has changed significantly over the last day,” said Matt DeWolfe, executive engineer at the Lake of the Woods Control Board.
“Far less rainfall is expected so water levels are not expected to rise significantly.”
In fact, the LWCB now is forecasting Rainy Lake will rise only two-six cm (one-two inches) over the next seven days.
Hourly data from gauges on Rainy Lake and in the upper Rainy River indicate the lake and upper river are very close to a plateau.
However, if the revised forecast is inaccurate, and heavy rainfall occurs, there is little room in the watershed remaining to store water and the level will begin climbing once more.
The forecast does have the potential for very heavy thunderstorms tomorrow, with strong sustained winds Monday.
“The weather picture is very uncertain, however, and heavy rain could still have levels rising,” DeWolfe warned.
In the meantime, the public also is reminded that all beaches in the area remain closed until further notice.
“Due to the high water levels and strong currents, we are advising the public to wait until the water levels recede and allow officials to assess beach areas to ensure everyone’s safety,” Briere said.

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