March 12, 2018 7:15 pm
Updated: March 12, 2018 8:55 pm

Twin Lakes residents prepare for potential flooding


The small waterfront community of Twin Lakes—approximately 20 kilometres southwest of Penticton—is preparing for possible flooding.

Craig Hunter spent much of last spring sandbagging around his property and the nearby sewage lift station after the area was hit hard by record-breaking floods.

“Last year with the sandbagging I was out of commission for a month with a hip injury from lifting sandbags and rolling out 80 pounds of hose that emergency services provided for us,” he said.

The high snowpack is causing apprehension for the once flood-stricken community.

WATCH BELOW: Flood-stricken Twin Lakes homeowners feel forgotten by government

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As of March 1, the snowpack in the Okanagan is 141 per cent of normal, and the Similkameen snow basin is 144 per cent normal. The region has the most elevated snowpacks in B.C.

“I’ve lived here since ‘88 and this is the most snow I’ve ever seen,” Hunter said.

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“I think the odds are leaning towards a worse flood.”

Elevated snowpacks coupled with warmer temperatures could exacerbate the flood risk in the Okanagan.

Hunter said heavy rain is the wildcard.

“End of April, early May last year when we got really warm really fast: if that happens, get your snorkels and fins.”

Dave Campbell, head of the B.C. River Forecast Centre, said La Nina conditions near the equator in the Pacific Ocean mean the snowpack is growing at a faster rate than normal.

READ MORE: Flood damage keeps Central Okanagan parks closed

“Typically when we get over about 120 per cent, we get more concerned that we’re in a higher risk situation, and this year we are well above that level,” he said.

Campbell said weather patterns in the coming months will determine whether the snow will come down from the mountains gradually or in one fell swoop.

“Hot weather and prolonged hot weather can really drive flooding,” he said.

“When we get the heavy rains it can be either short intensity rainfall or long intensity like we saw last year.”

READ MORE: Soggy weather dampened tourist enthusiasm for Kelowna last summer

Back at Twin Lakes, residents aren’t taking any chances.

“As owners here we’ve started talking about preparation, how we are going to deal with it, so we don’t have repeat last year,” Earl Hill said.

“By the sounds of it, it looks like it’s going to flood again. We’re hoping it doesn’t.”

WATCH BELOW:As snowpack rises, so do flood fears in the Okanagan

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