Cold weather the past couple of days has slowed the melt of snow from high elevations around the Okanagan, but it has also added to what is now a near-record amount of snow remaining for this time of year.
In particular, the Mission Creek watershed, where snowpack depth is automatically measured constantly at an elevation of 1,794 metres, is still at 700 millimetres of snow water equivalent, while the average is less than 300 for this point in the year.
Mission Creek is the largest single input for Okanagan Lake, and it has a high elevation watershed that normally melts later than many others in the valley.
Muddy, brown water in the creek, while high, had actually slowed and dropped slightly Friday, due to unseasonably cold overnight and day temperatures which stopped the melt process.
Residents living near Okanagan creeks, particularly creeks carrying the melt from high elevations, are warned that they are still likely to rise when temperatures warm up, and that rise could be quick if there’s a sudden rise in temperatures.
However, Environment Canada meteorologist Doug Lundquist reports weather in the coming week is forecast to be more normal with temperatures in the 20s, and just the occasional shower— good news for a slower melt.
The upper low pressure system that resulted in 19 mm of rainfall Thursday has passed now, and more-typical May/June weather is replacing that cold and rainy spell.
The worst scenario for those concerned about flooding is weather that is suddenly hot with warm rain at the same time.
For the week ahead, there is another upper low weather pattern moving down from the Gulf of Alaska, which would not be quite as favourable in terms of flooding.
Lundquist blames La Nina in part for the storm tracks in the past few months, but says that colder stream of ocean flows from South America is expected to break down in the coming weeks.
Although April and May were in sixth place for the coldest on record, there were no actual weather records set, reports Lundquist.
The average May temperature so far is 11.9 C, but rainfall is already 65.4 mm, while the normal average temperature for the month is 12.6 C with normal rainfall 39 mm.
Because of the high spring runoff the underpass for the Mission Creek Greenway at Casorso Road has been closed and greenway users are asked to respect the barricades and signs posted there.
Bruce Smith, with the regional district, said pedestrians and cyclists should use the Casorso Bridge until floodwaters recede. However, he warned people to use caution and only cross the road when it is safe. Motorists are also asked to watch for greenway users crossing there while the underpass is closed.
The underpass on the south side of the Gordon Drive bridge is also closed due to high creek waters.
Regional district staff is continuing to monitor creek levels along both phases of the greenway, said Smith.
He warned that water levels in creeks may rise unexpectedly and everyone, especially children and pets, should stay safely back from banks, which may be slippery or eroding due to this spring’s heavy runoff.
Assistant fire chief Jason Brolund said there are several areas they’re keeping an eye on, but none where flooding is currently occurring.