(LTVCA)

The Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority (LTVCA) has issued a safety bulletin for the Thames River watershed.

LTVCA officials say last week the Thames River watershed experienced a warm spell and rainfall that melted much of the snow and raised water levels throughout the watershed.

Temperatures have now fallen below freezing and are expected to remain there until the weekend.

From Friday through Monday, daytime highs between 0 C and 6 C are predicted with some associated rainfall between 5 mm and 15 mm.

Water levels on the region’s smaller watercourses have returned to normal seasonal levels, except for a few in the downstream areas which are influenced by the Thames River which is still high there.

The predicted warm temperatures and rainfall will melt most of the snow that has accumulated since last week.

If the heavier rainfall amounts appear, we could see a rise in water levels on the region’s smaller watercourses again.

Some of these watercourses still have ice built up in them which could aggravate the situation.

Water levels on the Thames River are now dropping in the downstream areas, LTVCA officials say.

Water levels in the City of Chatham peaked last evening and are dropping relatively quickly.

Water levels in the city have dropped 50 cm since the peak.

However, elevated water levels can be expected in the area for another couple of days.

The predicted rainfall is not anticipated to have a significant impact on Thames River water levels as water levels on the river are still dropping and should be down significantly by the time the rainfall arrives.

Accumulations of broken up ice can be observed around the Thamesville area from just upstream of Little John Road to a few kilometers downstream of Thamesville.

As water levels drop in the area, it is expected that this ice will solidify in place.

Broken up ice is also starting to accumulated just before Kent Bridge but the river ice remains largely intact from there through the City of Chatham down to the mouth.

Through the City of Chatham large areas of open water have appeared where the ice has melted out.

People should take extra caution and avoid the river, ditches, and streams. The combination of slippery banks, broken or unstable ice and fast moving cold water can be dangerous.

Standing water can also present its own unseen hazards.

Children and pets should be kept away from the water.

Officials will continue to monitor the situation and update this advisory if necessary.

This message will be in effect until January 22.