The Ministry of Natural Resources and Conservation Ontario have agreed to a change in the terminology for flood messages to ensure consistency and to be more in line with the wording used by weather agencies. The change will take effect immediately and is expected to be fully implemented by conservation authorities and MNR districts by the end of February.
The current flood warning terminology, which was developed in the late 1990s, has been the source of some confusion around the meaning of certain terms. A sub-committee of the Provincial Flood Forecasting and Warning Committee (PFFWC) made up of members from conservation authorities, Conservation Ontario, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Canada developed recommendations that were endorsed by Conservation Ontario’s Council in December 2011 and the PFFWC in February 2012. The attached document summarizes the changes. The changes reflect feedback from staff in both MNR and conservation authorities.
Conservation Authorities and MNR districts are asked to incorporate the revised messaging immediately in their operations and online, and to inform their local flood management partners, including municipalities and media, of the change in messaging status. They are also asked to incorporate the revised messages and their corresponding colours into their online graphics. While conservation authorities are not required to use the proposed graphics, they are encouraged to do so in order to promote even more consistency across the province.
Updating the Provincial Flood Forecasting and Warning Guidelines
The ministry will ensure the use of the new messaging by the Surface Water Monitoring Centre, districts in areas where there is no conservation authority, and online. The ministry will update the Ontario Flood Forecasting and Warning Implementation Guidelines by the end of February.
Conservation Ontario is providing the following information and templates for Conservation Authorities to facilitate their revisions:
- Sample Message Text for Conservation Authority Websites (WORD File)
- Graphics for Conservation Authority use (PDF). NOTE: All Conservation Authorities need to use the colour coded system assigned to the different levels. The graphics provided here are suggested for their use in order to promote a consistent approach by all Conservation Authorities, but not required.)
- Template for Email Notification to Flood partners (WORD File)
- Sample Flyer for Hardcopy Notification to Partners (PDF) (GRCA Sample pdf and GRCA original documents)
- Flood Terminology Report (PDF) (Flood Terminology Committee’s research and final recommendations)
- Presentation: Flood Terminology Update (PDF) – PFFWC February 2, 2012
New Flood Status Messaging
Conservation Authorities issue three levels of messages:
- Watershed Conditions Statement (Previously High Water Safety Bulletin): a general notice of weather conditions that could pose a risk to personal safety or which have the potential to lead to flooding. There are two variations of these:
- Watershed Conditions Statement – Water Safety: High flows, unsafe banks, melting ice or other factors could be dangerous for recreational users such as anglers, canoeists, hikers, children, pets, etc. Flooding is not expected
- Watershed Conditions Statement – Flood Outlook: Early notice of the potential for flooding based on weather forecasts calling for heavy rain, snow melt, high wind or other conditions that could lead to high runoff, cause ice jams, lakeshore flooding or erosion.
- Flood Watch (Previously Flood Advisory): Flooding is possible in specific watercourses or municipalities. Municipalities, emergency services and individual landowners in flood-prone areas should prepare.
- Flood Warning (No change): Flooding is imminent or already occurring in specific watercourses or municipalities. Municipalities and individuals should take action to deal with flood conditions. This may include road closures and evacuations
Watershed Conditions Statement - Water Safety – High flows, unsafe banks, melting ice or other factors that could be dangerous for recreational users such as anglers, canoeists, hikers, children, pets, etc. Flooding is not expected.
Watershed Conditions Statement - Flood Outlook – Early notice of the potential for flooding based on weather forecasts calling for heavy rain, snow melt, high wind or other conditions that could lead to high runoff, cause ice jams, lakeshore flooding or erosion.
Conservation Authorities are asked to update their websites and inform their local flood partners of these changes by the end of February.
Once Conservation Authorities and District offices have had a chance to revise their messages, Conservation Ontario and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources will issue a joint media release and fact sheet that can be used for media and the general public or partners. Conservation Ontario and OMNR will circulate to provincial levels of main broadcast and print media, as well as Environment Canada and the Weather Network. This will be last week of February. Conservation Authorities are encouraged to inform their partners as soon as possible.