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.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Okanagan can learn from Washington’s wine industry growth

Winery owner cites importance of industry collaboration

Egg-stravaganza in Memorial Park

Kids Easter event planned for Summerland

Okanagan wineries shine in global chardonnay competition

Recognition for Kalala and Liquidity wineries at 2018 Chardonnay du Monde competition

Reel Reviews: Fear or love

We say, “Once again, one worth seeing, one not.”

Cancer fundraiser takes to Okanagan Lake

Penticton and Naramata joining growing fundraising event

Rainy week ahead for Okanagan and Shuswap

Environment Canada is forecast rain for the next three days, starting Tuesday afternoon

Uber suspends self-driving car tests after fatality

A woman walking outside a crosswalk in Phoenix was killed when she was hit by a self-driving car

Police divers to resume river search for missing Montreal boy

Police divers and a helicopter search the shores of the Riviere des Prairies for missing 10-year old boy Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou

World’s last male northern white rhino dies

The world’s last male northern white rhino, Sudan, has died after “age-related complications”.

Author: New generation creating disruption and change

Author says millennial generation will be harbingers of change

Attempted gun smuggler across the Osoyoos border sentenced

Alex Louie, who prefers the name Senk’lip, was sentenced to the mandatory minimum

Pro-Trump protest sign with F-word is OK, court rules

Judges say Ontario man can protest publicly, even using vulgar language

VIDEO: Police officer looking for distracted drivers gets hit by truck

Road safety investigator clipped by trailer while patrolling busy intersection

YVR wants you to help name three new puppies

Say hello to the Vancouver Airport’s new assistance pups

Most Read