Park remains closed as ice jam warning continues

Tyler Clarke
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A gate keeping vehicles out of Little Red River Park will remain locked this weekend as an ice jam warning persists along the North Saskatchewan River, during which high flows continue to back into the park. 

The threat of a North Saskatchewan River ice jam persists over the next week, during which a stretch of the river west of Prince Albert remains a concern.


“We’re going to continue to watch for that and see,” Water Security Agency spokesperson Patrick Boyle said.

“Within the next week we’re going to see the ice dissipate and get off the rivers, but right now it’s still a concern.”

Coming off a particularly cold winter, greater than usual ice buildup has created the potential danger between the Petrofka bridge that allows Highway 12 to cross the North Saskatchewan River west of Prince Albert, and the city.

“What we’re seeing from some of our guys with hydrometric stations … the depth was a little greater than normal, this year, and just seeing that there’s more ice, right?” Boyle concluded.

“It’ll probably be until next week when you see a lot of the ice getting off the river, if temperatures hold.”

Little Red River Park closed to the public on Thursday due to the North Saskatchewan River backing into the park and flooding out swaths of the lower lying areas.

Although water had receded by Friday afternoon, the park will remain closed this weekend, with the situation re-evaluated on Monday.

The park is too wet and is in no condition for use, community services director Jody Boulet explained, as a combination of rain and snow continued to fall on Friday.

Looking at Little Red River Park’s closure, Boyle noted that this week’s flood situation is a result of localized runoff, precipitation and the North Saskatchewan River.

This is a much different circumstance than those that led to last summer’s months-long closure of Little Red River Park, he explained.

Last year’s flood came as a result of high water levels at Anglin Lake flowing south through Little Red River Park when the province opened the Spruce River Dam to mitigate flood risks.

Within the next week we’re going to see the ice dissipate and get off the rivers, but right now it’s still a concern. Patrick Boyle

“Anglin Lake’s one of those areas where last year, it wasn’t the spring runoff that caused an issue, it was heavy rainfall in June,” Boyle explained.

Boulet suggested that the current closure of Little Red River Park will be much shorter in nature, with further updates to be provided next week.

By Friday afternoon, the North Saskatchewan River was flowing at a rate of about 900 cubic meters per second -- about half of its peak flow recorded a few days earlier.

However, this is still significantly greater than its average flow for this time of year of less than 500 cubic meters per second.

Monitoring the situation, Boyle noted that the area’s greater than average ground saturation of recent years has carried on through 2014.

“The above normal area around Prince Albert and that area is pretty consistent with last year, so what we’re seeing is more moisture on top of that and something that we really need to look out for here,” he said.

“We have had guys on the ground and offering emergency flood damage reduction programs, so we’ve started to get quite a few calls on that so that’s a really positive thing for us to have our guys out there to help those who need it.

“We’re hopefully getting toward the end of spring runoff, here, but we’re kind of watching and waiting.”

Organizations: Prince Albert, Water Security Agency

Geographic location: North Saskatchewan River, Little Red River Park

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