FREDERICTON -- A year after record spring flooding in New Brunswick, officials say only Mother Nature knows if there will be a repeat this year.

The annual River Watch program got underway Tuesday, and Emergency Measures officials are advising the public to keep an eye on the weather forecasts and heed any alerts.

"We all recall last year's flooding event and given the impacts of that, the importance of these messages really can't be overstated," said Greg MacCallum, director of New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization.

"To keep your family and property safe, you need to stay informed, be prepared and follow directions from official sources."

Jasmin Boisvert, a water sciences specialist with the Environment Department, said the amount of snow on the ground now in New Brunswick is greater than last year.

However he said the potential for flooding will depend on the rate of melt and whether there are any rain events or ice jams.

"The amount of snow is not a good predictor of flooding. Regardless of the amounts there could be a significant flood, no flood, or something in between," Boisvert said.

Last year, a rapid melt and two late storms that bought heavy, wet snow resulted in major flooding along the St. John River and its tributaries.

"This is the most fussed-over period of weather in the province of New Brunswick every spring for good reason. It's a very dynamic, constantly changing situation," MacCallum said.

The province said about 12,000 properties were affected by widespread flooding between late April and mid-May last year, with dozens of homes and cottages beyond repair.