City of Kenora crews have been hard at work all weekend, and then into Monday, trying to get a handle on roadways that have been impacted by all the melted snow and continuous rain.
On Monday, the city was forced to close portions of Essex Road due to road flooding and is continuing to monitor the ever-changing situation on Kenora’s roadways.
“The lake level is too high, and with no way of diverting, road crews are doing the very best they can,” says Heather Pihulak, Director of Corporate Services. “Signage and stakes have been installed to help distinguish the shoulders of various roads. A lot of our rural roads are becoming very high or are on the brink of being covered.”
Currently, road crews are focusing their efforts on the roadways that are being affected immediately by continuously flowing water or the potential for immediate damage.
As of Monday afternoon, the city has had to close both ends of Hooterville Trail on Essex Road, as well as the road at the Miller swamp, which is just north of School Road.
The city says road crews are setting up barricades and signage for local traffic. They will continue to monitor the roads as the rainfall continues to increase water levels throughout the area.
The city is advising that local traffic be the only ones to travel through the barricades.
She adds that the water level is rising quickly to the Bailey Bridge on Coker Road, which has led to discussions about the next steps.
“They’re having discussions currently with the engineering team regarding making some burms with the clean stone to help protect the bridge, that’s going to take a couple of days and time is not our friend today.”
Since April 20, water levels on Lake of the Woods have risen by roughly 25”, while levels on the Winnipeg River have risen by about 67” since early April.
Water levels will continue to rise as the region was hit with a massive rainstorm on Monday (May 9, 2022), where anywhere from 20-30 mm of rain was expected to fall, making conditions unfavourable for crews.
On Friday (May 6, 2022), several roads north of the by-pass in Kenora, were underwater but still passable.
“Those roads were still on the brink of being water-covered, again they’re continuing to deal with those and will address if they come up.”
The mentioned roads were Essex Road at Hooterville, Essex Road at Miller Swamp north of School Road, Coker Road east of Kelly Road, and the Lajeunesse Bridge.
Increasing water levels are due to the significant amount of snow the region received over the winter and the record-breaking month of April in terms of rainfall.
Throughout the winter the Kenora area saw 305.8 cm of snowfall from September 2021 until Monday (May 9, 2022), which broke a 61-year-old winter snowfall record. Last winter, the region only received 102.9 cm of snow from September 2020 until June 2021.
In April, 67.8 mm of rain fell at the Kenora Airport, which broke a 62-year-old rainfall record for the month. Almost half of that monthly amount came in the last weekend of the month, as 30.8 mm of rain fell.
With the six millimetres the region received from Saturday through until Monday, already 16.8 mm of rain has fallen in May, which is well below the 77.4 mm average for the month.