Water is expected to force the closure of Highway 3 in several spots when the Similkameen River rises again later this week. Photo: Penticton Western News files

Okanagan-Shuswap flood watch to intensify over next week

Heat wave speeding up snowmelt process

A unusually warm spring heat wave is raising flood warning concerns across the Okanagan and Shuswap regions over the next week, according to the B.C. River Forecast Centre.

Dave Campbell, head of the forecast centre, says the snow melting has been accelerated by temperatures trending six to eight degrees above the normal average, mixed with the potential for the heat to be briefly interrupted by rain later this week.

Related: Temperature soar to record-breaking heights in Kelowan, Vernon

“The weather will be critical over the few weeks,” Campbell explained. “There is a strong high pressure surge right now will a small potential disturbance that will generate rain leading into the long weekend, but that high pressure system is expected to rebuild and be more prolonged leading into next week.”

Campbell said in the South Okanagan, the rising Similkameen River is causing flooding headache, with a new peak level expected to be reached within the next three to five days.

He said flow projections of 800 cubic metres a second are anticipated for the peak freshet period, having already reached 600.

Related: Provincial aid for flood victims

“How high it goes will depend on a couple of pieces. One is how much snow at the higher elevation melts as from the snow perspective at some point that process will run out of gas, and what uncertainty the weather might bring through this week, as getting more rain will bump things up again,” he said.

Campbell said the Central and North Okanagan regions haven’t dodged a flood bullet yet, noting the mid-snow levels, 1,500 to 2,000 feet, are about two-thirds melted while the higher elevations above that are about 10 to 20 per cent melted.

“I think it would be premature to talk about dodging a bullet. Uncertainty over all rivers in the region right now makes them extremely vulnerable to flooding at this stage. The Mission Creek system and some around Vernon are very much in a transition period so we’ll find out more about the risk factor as that high elevation snow starts to melt at a higher rate,” he said.

Campbell added the Salmon River in the Shuswap, like the Similkameen, is another river that has already seen some peaks and valleys in its freshet enhanced flows.

“I think (the Salmon River) is one of those rivers where we have seen it peak, have seen it come down a bit, and now we are seeing it rise again. With a further warming trend the next four to seven days will be critical. If we get through that, then we should start to see improving conditions.”

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


@BarryGerding
barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Okanagan Shuswap weather: Glimpses of sun expected on another wintry day

The sun will be peeking out from behind the clouds for the next few days

Urban Distillery + Liquor moves to West Kelowna

The proprietor has big dreams for the new space

World Community Film Festival returns to Kelowna

The festival celebrates its 16th anniversary

Line-up for Kelowna Fan Experience 2019 to be announced

The line-up will be announced Feb. 22

Former homeless man hopes to inspire change for others in Kelowna

Dean Schaffler was one of the more recognizable men living on the street in Kelowna

5 Events to check out this weekend local ski hills

Check out this new column from Okanagan events guru Christina Ferreira

70% of Canadians agree with mandatory vaccines for children: poll

The debate for pro and anti vaccinations has heated up after a measles outbreak in Vancouver

UPDATE: Woman, off-duty cop in critical condition after stabbing outside B.C. elementary school

The officer was interceding in an alleged assault when he and the woman were stabbed

‘A little baloney’ in PM’s claim about solicitor-client privilege on SNC-Lavalin

The Conservatives and NDP want Trudeau to waive that privilege so Wilson-Raybould can offer her side of the story

Proposed edible pot rules are wasteful, would leave products tasteless: critics

When Canada legalized weed last fall, it only allowed fresh or dried bud, oil, plants and seeds

Samsung folding phone is different – but also almost $2,000

But most analysts see a limited market for foldable-screen phones

Alcohol policies fizzle for Canadian governments as harms overflow: reports

About 80 per cent of Canadians drink, and most enjoy a drink or two

Most Read