Central Okanagan creeks are rising and those who experienced some flooding last year are warned it would be wise to take precautions this year.
Central Okanagan emergency services coordinator Jason Brolund says the winter snowmelt is about three weeks ahead this year, while last year’s was late, after a cool and rainy spring.
However, there is 16 per cent more snow than average in the Mission Creek watershed, which is the largest single contributor of runoff into Okanagan Lake.
Coupled with heavy rain and warm temperatures, that could lead to flooding again this year, but without the rain and warmer temperatures, snow could melt and run off without incident over the next six to eight weeks, he said.
At this point, it’s all weather dependent, he said.
If temperatures are above normal and we have more than 15 to 20 millimetres in a 24-hour period, then people should be prepared for flooding if they are in a zone that’s flood-prone, he said.
Last year was a good gauge of whether you can expect to have flooding—those who did experience it then, should be prepared.
For instance, West Kelowna firefighters are keeping an eye on properties in the area of McDougall Creek in West Kelowna where flooding occurred last year.
West Kelowna Fire Rescue chief Wayne Schnitzler told West Kelowna council this week that last year’s sandbagging along the creek is still in place. “It made it a lot easier for the people who live in those areas,” he said.
“They’ve been very proactive this year, preparing their properties. The operations staff have been getting sand down to the group and as many sandbags as they need,” he said.
Schnitzler added, “When I looked at the creek today, it seemed pretty stable. This morning they just advised the snowpacks are pretty well equitable to last year. It would all be determined whether a weather event of any sort (occurs). Last year’s (flooding) occurrence was from that rain event. I think it rained like 24 hours straight, very heavy rain. If we don’t get another event like that, we should be in pretty good shape.”
Kelowna deputy fire chief Brolund said there’s a good supply of sandbags at the main firehall on Enterprise Way, and other firehalls in the region also have some if people feel they might need them.
He also warned that people should make sure to keep children and pets well away from local creeks as they’re swollen with snowmelt and rainfall runoff.
High water can erode banks and undercut them, making it dangerous to walk near the bank.
For tips on how to prepare for a flooding emergency, go to: www.cordemergency.ca and click on Be Prepared.
Bruce Smith of the regional district said they are monitoring flood-prone areas such as along Mission and Mill Creeks in Kelowna, McDougall in West Kelowna and Shorts and Whiteman Creeks up Westside Road.
The worst scenario would be if heavy rain combined with snowmelt, he noted.