BC Snowpack/Flood Update

The Okanagan snowpack is 206% of normal for this time of year. “That’s the highest recorded Okanagan Snow Basin index we’ve got,” said Dave Campbell, head of the B.C. River Forecast Centre.  “We’ve been recording these since about 1980.  It may or may not exceed the 1972 level but it’s certainly among if not THE highest snowpack we’ve seen.”

Fortunately, the guy who controls the flow out of Okanagan Lake had enough warning to prepare this year.  

“We were certainly paying attention to the fact that the snow had been building over the course of April so we continued to be aggressive with our outflows.  Okanagan Lake is 62 centimeters below the same date that we were last year,” says Shaun Reimer, section head of Public Safety and Protection in the Thompson Okanagan .  Reimer predicts the lake will see another 225 centimetres of rise in water level before the end of July, to around  12-20 centimetres above full pool. “Certainly that’s a far cry from last year when we went 76 centimetres over.”

The 20+ degree days we’ve been seeing have set the 2018 Spring Freshet into motion.  Campbell said, “We’ve seen a very rapid melt of mid-elevation snow over the last 10 days, 20-30 millimeters a day.  That’s why we’re seeing a lot of the flood issues that we are seeing right now is because of a lot of that rapid melt.”

The focus, at least right now, is on local creeks and streams, and will they be able to  handle that massive snowpack.

A State of Local Emergency has been expanded city-wide for Kelowna as a precautionary measure due to potential high stream flows on local creeks and high ground water levels.

City-wide local states of emergency also exist for Peachland and West Kelowna, and in the Central Okanagan’s West Electoral Area in the vicinity of Westside Road N from 5625 Westside Road to the Regional Boundary.

Flood prevention and mitigation efforts are underway throughout the region as officials continue to monitor roads, culverts, weather, creeks and streams. Bulman Road in Kelowna is currently closed due to overland flooding, including access to Shadow Ridge Golf Course.

Property owners near creeks and streams, especially those who may have experienced flooding in the past, are being asked to proactively prepare. Several evacuation alerts and orders continue to remain throughout the region.