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Flood potential in BC's Lower Mainland

Staff writers
April 27, 2012 — The Lower Mainland isn't dealing with the same flood threat that BC's southern Interior faced this week, but officials are still keeping a close eye on water levels.

Rising water levels have emergency officials on high alert
Rising water levels have emergency officials on high alert

A record snowpack combined with heavy rainfall left parts of BC's southern Interior dealing with a flood threat this week. Rising water levels and flood damage prompted evacuations in places like Kimberley, West Kelowna and Tulameen.

Although this recent blast of wet weather didn't have the same impact on the Fraser Valley and rest of the Lower Mainland, emergency experts say they're still keeping a close watch.

"If, in the Prince George area there was a sudden warming trend such as we saw in Kimberley...a lot of snow would come down," says Lynn Orstad with the Fraser Valley Emergency Management Program. "We'd start seeing really severe potential for flooding in our low-lying areas."

Orstad adds that high water levels in Prince George would be seen in the Fraser Valley about three days later.

"So there would be about three days notice before any flooding from the spring freshet occurred. Typically, the spring freshet starts in May and wraps up by the end of June. It is weather-dependent as the snow melts and comes down from the Interior."

In 2007, the Fraser River rose to a level not reached since 1972. Low-lying areas suffered minor flooding, but water levels did not breach the dikes. Orstad says current water levels are close to those back in 2007 and they're preparing for a similar season.

"This is the kind of water you see maybe once every ten years, but this year we had another La Nina year. Last year was our La Nina year, we had another one this year, which was unusual. And so, we've had the build up of the snow pack as well. We just want to be ready."

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