Flooding above Okanagan Lake. (Black Press Media file)

Increased snowpack, lots of rain boost B.C. flooding risk

Across the province, snowpacks are sitting at an average of 119 per cent of normal level

A very cold February with plenty of rain and snow throughout much of B.C. has led to an above average snowpack that’s keeping flood watchers on alert as temperatures warm up.

“One of the key things we’re seeing this year is the fairly rapid accumulation of snow in a number of pretty big snow events through the winter,” said Dave Campbell, the head of the BC River Forecast Centre.

Across the province, snowpacks are sitting at an average of 119 per cent of normal levels, according to the centre’s March 1 survey.

However, areas in the southern half of the province, including the Okanagan and Kootenays, have seen snowpacks estimated to be 135 per cent and 120 per cent of normal, respectively.

The Fraser River basin as a whole is about 110 per cent of normal.

“For us generally when we get to this time of year, 120 per cent of normal snowpack is where we start to get concerned about increased risk,” Campbell said.

Unprecedented flooding caused considerable damage across the Okanagan last year, destroying homes, creeks and lake foreshore. Cleanup is still continuing in many communities and restoration projects are part of the estimated $10.7-million recovery plan, which is 80 per cent funded by Emergency Management BC.

READ MORE: Police identify missing senior, man now presumed dead after landslide

A report released Wednesday by the provincial government made 66 recommendations to improve flood response, including hiring more staff at flooding response centres.

Another government evaluation, expected to be made public on April 30, is in the works to determine if areas in the Interior that are not as flood-prone will see a higher risk because of last summer’s wildfire conditions.

Areas lose their ability to soak up water once the soil burns, Campbell said, and fewer trees means less cover to handle the higher snow accumulation.

“Particularly for a heavy rainstorm that comes through, it can lead to much more rapid runoff of that water increase,” he added.

READ MORE: Emergency Management B.C. needs better response, Premier John Horgan says

READ MORE: No way to prevent 2017 spring flooding

People living in areas at high risk of flooding are encouraged to prepare, he said, but realistically the flood season is one of wait-and-see, heavily dependent on the levels of rain.

“That weather piece is very important in terms of whether we actually get any flooding, but certainly the risk is quite elevated this year.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

No end in sight, smoke is here to stay

There is no anticipated change in weather for the Okanagan-Shuswap this week

B.C. declares state of emergency as more than 560 wildfires rage

This is only the fourth state of emergency ever issued during a fire season

Man found not guilty in 2011 drug-related shooting in Blind Bay

Judge rules Jeremy Davis couldn’t foresee his companion would kill 24-year-old Nick Larsen.

Fundraiser set up for family of New Zealand woman who died in Sicamous

Twenty-three-year-old was one of four people to jump from the Bruhn Bridge on Aug. 8

Okanagan air quality improves slightly

Index for entire Okanagan Valley rated at 10+, or very high risk, because of wildfire smoke

No growth on the Monashee Complex wildfires

Mabel Creek, Sugar Mountain and Harris Creek fires continue to burn near Lumby and Cherryville

Regional climate adaptation agriculture testing to expand in B.C.

Ottawa funds farm projects to conserve water, remove invasive species

VIDEO: B.C. brother-and-sister RCMP officers Amazing Race Canada Heroes Edition

Courtney and Taylor Callens have become the team to beat

TRU moves to outlaw cannabis use

Cannabis users could be banned from lighting up on Kamloops campus

Smoky jazz guitars

Francois Et Guillaume, aka Willy Gaw and Darrin Herting, fill the hot,… Continue reading

Classical arrangements showcased in Salmon Arm

Cantabile Chamber Ensemble perform Century of Masterpieces

Thomy Thisdale takes tunes indoors on a rainy day in Salmon Arm

Carbons’ frontman performs solo acoustic set

‘Can’t erase history’ by tearing down statues, Minister says

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna spoke on the contentious removal of John A. Macdonald

Kamloops RCMP warn ‘don’t buy jewelry on the street’

Kamloops RCMP are warning jewelry buyers to be aware of a scam.

Most Read