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

Risk of thunderstorm this afternoon for Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland

A special weather statement calls for heavy rain and wind over the next 48 hours

Massive fire destroys Agassiz dairy barn

Reports say at least one cow died in the blaze

Chilliwack firefighter seeking to reunite Rosedale VFD’s old auxiliary fire pump with antique engine

It’s been four decades, but Pat Liebault is hoping to reunite Rosedale’s auxiliary pump and engine

VIDEO: Neighbours fear impact of B.C. tent city residents

Greater Victoria residents opposed to campers voice concerns at provincial campground

B.C. woman with autism has scooter stolen from SkyTrain station

Kayla Polege purchased scooter after ‘shutdowns’ on transit

Off Nova Scotia, a bid to ‘unravel the mystery’ of great white sharks

The question: Is Nova Scotia the second mating site for Atlantic white sharks, something scientists say could be key to protecting the endangered species.

Man arrested after carjacking, collision, pepper spray attacks in Vancouver

Vancouver police say one man is in custody after a chaotic scene of events in the downtown core

Canadian investigator says World Anti-Doping Agency got a bad deal from Russia

A Canadian lawyer says the World Anti-Doping Agency rushed into accepting a bad deal by reinstating the country’s drug-testing program.

Fashion Fridays: Rock some animal print

Kim XO, lets you in on the latest fall fashion trends on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

New evacuations ordered because of Florence flooding

Emergency managers on Friday ordered about 500 people to flee homes along the Lynches River

B.C. doctor weighs in on the kid ‘screen time’ debate

A Maple Ridge mother opens up about her children’s use of tablets, smartphones and television

Most Read