EDITORIAL: Preparing for extremes

Flooding and other extreme weather conditions have affected Summerland and the South Okanagan

The most recent snow pack levels at Summerland’s two measurement sites are far higher than normal for this time of year.

The readings, taken May 1, show the water equivalent at 270 per cent of normal at Summerland Reservoir and 243 per cent of normal at Isintok Lake.

These numbers are unusual, and they are approaching the maximum snow depth readings in the municipality’s models.

The high snow pack levels are not just abstract concepts. They are having an effect on the community.

For the second year in a row, the area around Garnet Avenue has been affected by flooding as Aeneas Creek has breached its banks.

The flooding this year is more severe than it was last year, and a berm has been set up on a portion of Garnet Avenue to divert the flood water.

In addition, there are concerns about the possibility of another flood at Okanagan Lake this year, after last year’s devastating flooding.

To prepare for this possibility, the lake level has been drawn down.

Summerland and the South Okanagan have experienced flooding in past years as well.

These include a severe flood in Trout Creek in 1972 and a devastating flood on Okanagan Lake in 1948.

Plans are needed to cope with wet spring seasons and flooding in future years.

Extreme floods have not been the only unusual conditions in Summerland and the rest of the South Okanagan in recent years.

This area has also experienced severe droughts and damaging wildfire seasons. And some years, including 2017, saw both floods and fires.

Whether we are seeing the result of global climate change or simply a series of unusual weather events, it is essential that we have plans to cope with extreme conditions.

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