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

Preliminary inquiry set for man accused of killing Belgian tourist

Sean McKenzie charged with killing Amelie Sakkalis, 28 on Aug. 22 near Boston Bar

PHOTOS: Salton pedestrian/cycling bridge lowered into place

Pedestrian/cycling bridge now in place over Highway 1

Abbotsford Police project tackles use of stolen debit and credit cards

‘That’s Not You’ cuts fraudulent offences in half, police say

Abbotsford schools’ uneven enrolment issues levelling

Preliminary enrolment data show increase at under-capacity schools, decrease at over-capacity schools

UFV launches Food and Agriculture Institute

New centre at University of the Fraser Valley fosters food security

Federal carbon tax rebates will exceed the cost for most people affected

Officials say 70 per cent of people in those provinces will get back more than they end up paying out as fuel costs rise to incorporate the carbon tax.

B.C. jury trial hears police-sting audio of man accused of killing girl, 12

Garry Handlen has pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder of Monica Jack on May 6, 1978.

5 tips to keep trick-or-treaters safe this Halloween

BC Children’s Hospital has a few suggestions to keep Oct. 31 fun

B.C. man gets seven years in prison for baseball-bat attack on Kamloops teen

Kamloops man who beat Jessie Simpson into a coma has pleaded guilty to aggravated assault. He was originally charged with attempted murder and assault with a weapon.

Cougar spotted after Vancouver Island resident finds his decapitated cat

Reports of conservation officers actively looking for the predator in Port Hardy Tuesday afternoon

Time running out for TV debate on proportional representation

B.C. Liberal leader spars with Premier John Horgan over timing

New rules introduced to protect B.C. foreign workers from exploitation

More than 16,000 temporary permits issued last year

Vancouver Canucks’ Elias Pettersson ‘feeling good’ after concussion

Rookie is back practising after being sidelined by Florida defenceman Mike Matheson

Metro Vancouver parking fees could rise to help pay for transit

Province tables bill that would generate an extra $10 million each year

Most Read