The potential of rising water levels due to ice jams on the Similkameen River forced the Regional District of the Okanagan Similkameen (RDOS) to closely monitor the situation on Wednesday morning (Dec. 29).
A significant amount of ice has made its way on area rivers, including the Similkameen, causing water levels to potentially rise over minutes or hours.
EOC is “activated to monitor and support potential ice jam events.”
Along with the RDOS, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations is also monitoring the situation.
“Ice jams can also release suddenly, sending-fast flowing water and ice downstream,” reads a statement from the RDOS. “An ice jam release can cause water levels to decrease quickly near the ice jam but rise downstream.”
The RDOS’ EOC information officer told the Penticton Western News on Wednesday that ice jams have not been encountered on area rivers for at least a few years.
When a certain amount of ice makes its way onto the river, the occurrence of water flows can potentially cause flooding.
According to the EOC officer, the water can start building up and when it lets go, it has to then “go somewhere.”
Given the recent flood events across B.C., the RDOS is asking anyone to leave the area immediately if they believe their property is potentially threatened by rising waters.
People are advised to keep a safe distance from waterways and river banks. It’s also been said that anyone who notices ice jamming should leave the area and call 911.
Residents are asked to visit emergency.rdos.bc.ca/be-prepared for more information on ice jams.