Waters: Flood watch becoming an annual event

Much higher than normal snowpack in the mountains renews fear of flooding

There’s snow in them thar hills.

And, as the Okanagan experienced last year, the white stuff up there will soon become the wet stuff down here.

Unlike last year, the folks tasked with heading off the flooding threat appear to be one step ahead of Mother Nature—at least for now. But that is not helping them rest any easier.

The level of Okanagan Lake has been gradually dropped over the last month to compensate for the torrent of water flowing down creeks and other tributaries into the lake thanks to the sudden shift in temperature and melting snow at higher elevations.

But as was the case last year, the weather can be unpredictable and rain coupled with the current warm temperatures could throw all that planning and preparation out the window.

Last year, the public was warned by local emergency response officials that with climate change, spring flooding like we saw last spring could become the new normal. And that has to worry not only provincial and local officials, but the public too.

On Monday, in a conference call with reporters, provincial officials said the latest forecasts indicate more water than originally thought will flow into Okanagan Lake before the end of July, thanks in large part of the historically large amounts of snow in the surrounding mountains.

In the Okanagan for instance, the snowpack now sits at more than double the normal amount, the highest recorded measurement since 1980. And this is not the only place where it may feel like summer down below but winter up top. Areas like the Boundary, the Kootenays and Upper Fraser West near Prince George are also experiencing substantially higher snowpacks than normal.

That has provincial flood watchers worried.

So sandbags are being distributed, B.C. Wildfire firefighters are already here helping out and kilometres of gabian and bladder dam equipment have been deployed, much of it here in the Okanagan.

It’s not clear if we are headed for a repeat of last year’s flooding, which saw the level of the lake relentlessly rise to record levels over the course of nearly three months, leaving a stunned population to grapple, seemingly helpless, with its bid to hold back the consistently seeping water.

When the flooding subsided, municipalities up and down the Okanagan were left with big bills for repair work, repairs that in some cases have yet to be completed.

What the rest of the season has in store for this area when it comes to water levels in local creeks, streams and lakes has yet to be determined, but everything points to another soggy season—even if it is under sunny skies.

So, as the temperature heats up and we start to slather on the sunscreen to protect ourselves from what appears to be an early start to the summer-like weather, don’t put away those wellies just yet.

The simple fact of the matter is at this time of year, they have now become a necessary fashion accessory.

Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Capital News.

Just Posted

Kelowna residents to honour the dead with walk of memories

The walk will honour each phase of life

Update: Wildfire northwest of Kamloops jumps from 60 to 800 hectares

Ground crews and aircraft are responding to an estimated 800 hectare wildfire approximately 55 kilometers northwest of Kamloops, near the Deadman Vidette Road.

B.C. Interior flood risk diminishing

Snowmelt receding but rainfall impact remains a concern

Driver flees scene after colliding with pedestrian

Kelowna RCMP continue their investigation after a driver allegedly failed to remain at the scene

Plea to help find missing dog in Kelowna

Willow has been missing since Sunday near Dee Lake Resort

It’s official: Basran to seek second term as Kelowna’s mayor

Colin Basran said despite the success of first four years, there more to be done

B.C. pipeline goes ahead despite scrapped Pacific Northwest LNG

NEB approves amendment for $1.4-billion natural gas North Montney Mainline Project

Feds limit chinook fishery to help killer whale recovery

Chinook is main food source for only 76 southern residents killer whales left

B.C. mom who died just before daughter’s wedding wanted family to be happy: twin

Ann Wittenberg was pulled into the ocean while on a surf board in Tofino last weekend

Courtenay-Alberni MP calls for lifeguards at popular surf spot near Tofino

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is defending its decision to cancel the surf guard program.

Harvey Weinstein to surrender in sex misconduct probe: officials

Would be first criminal charge against Weinstein since scores of women came forward

Fuel truck crash closes B.C. highway, sends two to hospital

The Trans-Canada Highway on Vancouver Island is expected to be closed until Thursday evening

Study looking at declining mule deer population

Southern Interior mule deer project tracking deer movement and health

Media are not an arm of the police, Vice lawyer tells Supreme Court hearing

Ben Makuch challenges Ontario Court of Appeal ruling that he must give materials for stories to RCMP

Most Read