City: Snowpack levels aren't cause for panic
City staff say despite a snowpack nearing record highs, it's not time to panic about possible floods yet.
Numbers released from the BC River Forecast Centre say the Okanagan snowpack is at 152 percent of normal.
That's the highest it's been since 1999.
Kelowna's Infrastructure Director Alan Newcombe remembers that year, and says everything turned out fine.
"There was no issues whatsoever, it came off in a relatively controlled manner," said Newcombe.
"Certainly, I would say the risk is higher because the snowpack is higher, and the longer the weather stays cool, the more likely it is that we get a very quick warmup," he cautioned.
He says the ideal weather for this time of year is having dry conditions, with temperatures in the mid to high teens, and that the constant rain over the last couple weeks is arguably a greater concern.
"In general, if it warms up even a lot, but we don't get rain on top of the snow up in the mountains, the creeks - generally in the past - have handled it," he said.
"They get high. The flows are going to be high. But it's the rain during that peak runoff time that is the real problem. I don't think anybody can predict what may or may not happen."
The city will make sandbags available to property owners over the next couple weeks.
Newcombe says after a year's worth of restoration work to local creeks, staff are feeling much more confident this year.
"What we don't want to see happen, is people panic out there. We're still a few weeks away from what we're going to see as high water, and certainly we don't want to create a situation where anybody who had sandbags last year is running out to pick up their sandbags, and sandbagging their properties when they don't need to," he said.
"We don't need another million sandbags out there that we have to try and collect in July."
He says that's especially true for lakefront property owners, as the risk of high water won't be immenent for at least a couple of months.