Thursday morning’s wild storm that swept through the Central Okanagan caused a spike in the level of Okanagan Lake that drove it up to five inches above optimal operating level, or what’s called full pool.
Kelowna assistant fire chief Jason Brolund said heavy rainfall from that overnight storm added to the lake’s already-high level while the winds that accompanied it stirred things up as well.
Wave action on structures and shorelines already suffering from high water levels are additionally impacted, whether it’s caused by wind or by boats passing by too close to shore.
In downtown Kelowna, there’s a fine balance, with many buildings virtually right at lake level, even inland a block or two from the lakeshore.
Large pumps brought in to pump out the city’s storm sewers have successfully sucked water out of the lower reaches of the Kelowna Community Theatre and the Water Street Seniors’ Centre, noted Brolund.
Many homes along Lakeshore Road in Kelowna, Casa Loma and Green Bay in West Kelowna and in the North Westside along Westside Road have used sandbags to keep lake water from causing damage to structures.
Sump pumps will be going full bore in many lakefront homes, he speculated.
“The good news is that the rate of rise of the lake is slowing, so we hope it will peak fairly soon. I’m optimistic we’re rounding the corner,” said Brolund.
There are still 18,500 sandbags available at the main firehall for those in emergency situations, he noted, but most people have already collected them if they needed to hold back floodwaters.
Although Mission and other creeks have dropped somewhat, water is still roaring down from the upper watershed where high elevation snow is still melting, and collecting runoff from storms such as Thursday’s.
That means it’s still dangerous to get close to the banks of streams where erosion has caused unstable ground because it could be fatal to be swept away in the current, particularly for youngsters and pets.