Laval authorities watching river as weather turns water slushy

No flood alert—yet

By Robert Frank

With local weather swinging swiftly between balmy and deep-freeze,  Laval public safety officials are keeping a close watch on the Île Jésus shoreline, particularly along Rivière des Prairies.

Once again this year, the rapid alternation between deep freeze and balmy weather during the past couple of weeks had turned the rivers that surround the city into a thick, supercooled slushy mix— known as frazil—rather than just freezing on top.

“There are still lots of areas with no ice cover,” reassured Laval Police Lt. Daniel Guérin.

However, the temperature flux could have caused bottom freezing, where ice forms at the bottom of the river, rather than on the surface. That can cause water to well up where the channel is shallow.

“Public safety has been watching the river closely since Jan. 5,” Lt. Guérin said. “Currently, there is no problem and there is no flood alert.”

Last year, Laval firefighters deployed their stockpile of sandbags, after that sno-cone-like suspension obstructed the channels surrounding the island and caused the rivers’ water level to rise.

Some shorelines in Sainte Dorothée, Laval des Rapides and St. François experienced some inundation a year ago, when rain, combined with unusually high, above-zero temperatures, melted accumulated snow—the equivalent of a torrential downpour. The land surrounding Lévesque Boulevard in Laval des Rapides is particularly low near the river.

Hydro Quebec also engaged in helping the city with flood mitigation last January. It used its vessels to keep a channel open from near the Pont Viau bridge to its hydroelectric dam on Rivière des Prairies.

“We’re remaining vigilant, together with Public Safety and Hydro, but for the moment there is no threat,” Lt. Guérin concluded.

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