London, Southwestern Ontario braces itself for more floods after a 127-year-old rainfall record

Constable Rick Zavitz, member of the London police unit, uses the high water on the Thames River Sunday as a good opportunity to train with the unit’s newest boat, a smaller RIB (rigid inflatable boat) that can be used in shallow water and in ponds such as those in Westminster. Sgt. Rob Brown said that the high water was moving fast and that they had seen a lot of debris floating in the current. Mike Hensen / The London Free Press

Mike Hensen / London Free Press / Postmedia Network

Heavy rainfall during the weekend has increased the water levels in rivers and streams throughout the region, with nature conservation authorities in Southwestern Ontario warning of more floods.

The rain in London probably broke a 127-year record on Saturday for the one-day rainfall in January, said Environment Canada meteorologist Peter Kimball.

And from Friday to Sunday, London received 75.9 millimeters of rain, including some snow, he said.

That’s “huge,” Kimball said. “The normal rainfall for January would be 75 mm, so we have a month of rainfall in a day and a half.”

Saturday’s rainfall in the city, 56 mm, set a new record for January 11. The old record for the date was 33 mm in 1980.

A quick glance at the records shows that the largest one-day rainfall in January for London, before Saturday, on January 29, 1893, had been 49.5 mm, Kimball said.

With the record rainfall, the Thames had flooded its banks in low-lying areas of London by Sunday morning.

Peak flows would develop in London during the day, the authority of the Upper Thames River said in its latest flood report.

Peak flows were expected Sunday morning in upstream areas such as Mitchell, Stratford, Tavistock and Ingersoll, the nature conservation authority said.

Downstream in Chatham, peak rivers were not expected until later in the week.

From Sunday morning, certain areas of Chatham-Kent had received local floods, including the center of Chatham, where the sidewalk along the river along Simcoe Lane was partially covered.

Lower Thames Valley Rainwater Protection Authority recorded an average of 53 mm rainfall in the western half of the catchment area.

“While that water is making its way through the system, we can expect that the river will continue to rise,” said Jason Homewood, water resources and regulations engineer.

The water levels at McGregor Creek have reached the point where the Rivard Dam was closed to divert water from the watershed around the city of Chatham and to protect the south side of the city against flooding.

According to an earlier opinion, which is still in force, flooding of companies along King Street in downtown Chatham is possible next week.

The Indian-McGregor Creek diversion channel is likely to be used to divert flood water around the city of Chatham.

For the Sydenham River basin, levels continue to rise and small floods are expected in Wallaceburg, and the McKeough Dam is on standby, the St. Clair River Protection Authority reported Sunday.

Western winds have the potential to create an inland water effect, which further increases the water levels in Wallaceburg, the conservation authority said.

In St. Clair Township, floods were expected to hit Stanley Line east of Kimball Road and Pretty Road north of McCallum Line. In Enniskillen Township, floods were expected to hit Durham Creek Line on Black Ash Line, Fairweather Road Between Rokeby Line and Shiloh Line and Fairweather Road between Oil Springs Line and Aberfeldy Line.

High winds and lake levels caused flooding along the coastline and led to various warnings for the eastern Eriemeer.

“There is the possibility of small to potentially significant effects along the low-lying areas of the Lake Erie coastline and the lower reaches of some tributaries, resulting in flooding, wave rebellion and increased coastline erosion,” the Long Point Region Conservation Authority advised Sunday morning.

Environment Canada has issued a wind warning for the region, with southwest wind gusts up to 100 km / h mid to late Sunday morning, the nature conservation authority noted.

The strong wind expected waves in the Long Point area to reach two meters, and the lake was expected to rise from 0.3 to 0.9 meters along the coast, the conservation authority said.

Minor floods due to rainfall were expected in the waterways in the Long Point region.

Major floods have already affected parts of the Grand River basin.

Highway 25 was closed on Saturday in Grand Valley, between Arthur and Orangeville, the Grand River Conservation Authority reported Saturday.

Precipitation totals of more than 75 mm were recorded in parts of the watershed Saturday with an additional rain of 10 to 20 mm expected Saturday night, the nature conservation authority said.

That is “a significant rainfall resulting in much higher river flows than previously predicted,” the protection authority said on its website.

The Grand River basin is the largest in Ontario and extends from Dufferin County to Lake Erie and includes Kitchener, Waterloo, Guelph, Cambridge and Brantford.