Flooding above Okanagan Lake (Black Press Media files)

Flooding above Okanagan Lake (Black Press Media files)

Okanagan Lake levels stay steady but snowpack is growing: officials

Whether or not the tributaries and creeks flood depends on how suddenly the snowpack begins to melt,

A still increasing snowpack could spell trouble for the Okanagan as temperatures hit the mid-2os this week, according to the River Forecast Centre.

Hydrologist David Campbell said that although the spring melt usually begins in mid-April, the Okanagan has seen an extra five to 15 per cent accumulation on top of a snowpack that was already 152 per cent of normal on April 1.

The centre calculates “normal” by calculating the 60-year average snowpack.

“Tributaries up and down the Okanagan, areas into the Similkameen region… we expect all those areas could see much more accelerated streamflow,” said Campbell.

Whether or not the tributaries and creeks flood depends on how suddenly the snowpack begins to melt, according to Shaun Reimer, section head of Public Safety and Protection for the Thompson Okanagan region.

“We don’t want the mid and high elevation snow melt to occur all at once,” said Reimer.

Related: Sunshine and above-average temperatures all week

Although smaller rivers are a concern, Reimer said, that the region’s lakes are still doing well.

“For Okanagan Lake, we are about 106 centimetres below our full pool range,” said Reimer. “We have a decent amount of water we can absorb.”

Looking ahead at forecasts up until July, Reimer said that the melt “should be manageable,” but that “if the water comes in very, very quickly much like it did last year, that can become very problematic.”

The lake is sitting at 61 centimetres below where it was at this time last year.

“I’m expecting that the lake will start to rise as this week’s warm weather initiates that snow melt,” said Reimer.

Related: Work continues to deal with flooding

Related: Emergency officials responding to floods and landslides

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