May 30, 2013 6:17 pm

Snowpack in backcountry could lead to flood risk in Alberta communities

CALGARY- Communities near the Bow, Elbow and Red Deer River could be at risk for flooding, if the snowpack is any indication.

Alberta Environment is reporting an above average snowpack for May, at the headwaters of the Bow. Earlier this week, water monitoring technologists were out measuring and weighing samples at eight sites near Banff.

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“They can use that information to model the snow pack, how it well it’s going to come out of the mountains,” explains Jon Pedlar, from Alberta Environment. “How it’s going to impact our rivers, potential high water events.”

He adds the flooding is possible, if it rains at high elevations.

“[Last week’s snowfall] wasn’t a huge impact on the rivers, but certainly those kind of rain events over the next couple weeks will play a big role in how it comes out.

“We’ve seen a lot of the melting happen over the last few weeks, but there’s still a fair bit of snow up at the higher elevations to come out.”

Downstream, officials with the City of Calgary are watching closely.

“We’re expecting a relatively average season,” says senior planning engineer Frank Frigo. “That being said, it only takes a relatively small event, but widespread enough, to hit most of the catchment to create some concern.”

Information on the snowpack has been collected at Alberta Environment sites for more than three decades.

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