Drier weather will ease flood threat

Okanagan Lake is close to being full, but unless there are heavy rains, flooding could be averted this year.

Lakefront property owners should be doing what they can to protect their property, as Okanagan Lake is just eight centimetres from full pool, and heavy rains could push it over that ideal level.

Concerns about flooding have shifted now from along Mission Creek to the lake, where property owners are advised to be prepared to take flooding precautions, says Jason Brolund, Central Okanagan emergency services coordinator.

The lake will fill this year, as there is still snow melting from high elevations around the valley, and heavy rains in addition to that could cause flooding.

He asked that lakefront property owners leave debris that washes up on their beaches in place right now because it helps to prevent erosion. Clean-up can be done later in the year.

Since mid-May, the natural resource operations ministry has been releasing the maximum amount of water from Okanagan Lake, says Des Anderson, section head, public safety and protection.

The early May spell of hot weather caused a rush of melting snow to run off into the lake, but because cooler weather followed, the melt is now more consistent and slower, he explained.

That early melt means the lake is higher than it normally would be at this time of year, but because much of the snow has melted from high elevations, he’s not too concerned now about the impact of runoff from melting snow.

What could throw a wrench into an orderly melt is if there are heavy rains, but the forecast for this weekend is for drier weather, followed by a new series of storms next week.

Anderson reports that Osoyoos Lake is dropping from its peak of 1.7 feet above ideal, and the level of the Similkameen River has dropped from its peak as well. It was backing up into Osoyoos Lake.

The level of Okanagan Lake is about a week or 10 days ahead of normal, but he’s reassured by a forecast of drier weather.

Brolund said there are sand bags available at local firehalls for property-owners who need to protect their property.

He advised boaters to be on the alert for debris and logs which have washed into the lake with high creek levels.

 

jsteeves@kelownacapnews.com