At mercy of Mother Nature

We are at the whim of the weather.
Emergency planners across Rainy River District have gone to extreme lengths to protect property and infrastructure over these past two weeks. And as the water has risen, everyone is looking at the skies—wondering if the darkening clouds are the precursor to more rain.
On June 20, forecasters were calling for substantial rain for that weekend based on weather conditions to the west and southwest of the Rainy Lake basin.
The Lake of the Woods Control Board, examining the weather reports, suggested Rainy Lake could rise an additional 14-20 inches in the following week.
Thankfully for all the emergency workers, the rain did not come as predicted.
Severe thunderstorms, with isolated rain, did fall in the region but not in the predicted quantities. Subsequently, the lake rose 18.9 cm (7 7/16 inches) in that period—far less than was feared.
As a result, Rainy Lake appeared to crest at 338.686 m (1,111 feet, 2 3/32 inches) above sea level. Rainy Lake rose to 1,113 feet back in 1950.
Then last Thursday (June 26), the Lake of the Woods Control Board—again reviewing weather forecasts—projected that over the course of the Canada Day weekend, Rainy Lake again potentially could rise another 14-20 inches.
The potential for higher water—and strong southeast winds in the five days following Thursday’s prediction—had emergency measures personnel reviewing all of their plans, re-examining the sand bag berms that had been built, and checking again that all sewers were well-sealed to prevent seepage of lake and river water into the sanitary sewer system.
On Couchiching First Nation, Coun. Christine Jourdain again was checking on all the homes and residents that were threatened by the new flood levels. Those who would be in greatest danger were identified so they could be transferred to safer quarters should the waters rise.
Meanwhile, Fort Frances Fire Chief Frank Sheppard and Operations and Facilities manager Doug Brown reviewed all of their plans for the town of Fort Frances.
Arrangements were organized to put in place an emergency system to call out volunteers to renew sandbagging efforts along the riverfront. Following the review of the berms, sandbaggers were requested for 8 a.m. on Saturday to raise levels.
But by Friday morning, the weather forecast had changed substantially, with lower rainfalls being predicted and an expected increase of just two-six cm (one-two inches) over the next seven days.
The notice came with a caution that the projected rain could be higher if the weather system tracking our way stalled on the watershed, resulting in higher water.
Friday morning dawned and the sky was filled with grey clouds. Everyone still is looking skyward. The Lake of the Woods Control Board indicated a second report would be issued Friday afternoon with revisions should they be necessary.
Borderland is “not out of the woods” as Chief Sheppard would say. We continue to be at the mercy of Mother Nature.
The emergency team felt some optimism Friday afternoon, but remained cautious about the weather.

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