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Rapid snowmelt prompts high streamflow advisory for Fraser River

A sandbag dike holds back the water from the Fraser River in Chilliwack, B.C., on June 28, 2012. A streamflow advisory has been issued for the Fraser River.
A sandbag dike holds back the water from the Fraser River in Chilliwack, B.C., on June 28, 2012. A streamflow advisory has been issued for the Fraser River. THE CANADIAN PRESS FILE/Jonathan Hayward

B.C.’s Lower Mainland could be the next region watching the river banks, amid a flood season that has seen thousands of people forced from their homes across the Southern Interior.

The province’s River Forecast Centre has issued a high streamflow advisory for the Fraser River, “including the mainstem from Prince George through Hope and the Fraser Valley.”

High streamflow advisories are issued when water levels are rising or expected to rise rapidly, but when no major flooding is expected.

The agency says warmer than normal temperatures across the province over the last several weeks have prompted the snowpack runoff for the Fraser to arrive much earlier than in normal years.

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Warmer weather earlier this week has accelerated the runoff, it said, and rising water levels in the lower reaches of the Fraser are expected to continue into the weekend.

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River flows at Hope are expected to reach up to 10,000 cubic metres per second over the weekend, with water levels at Mission rising as high as 5.5 metres.

The agency also warned that warm temperatures are forecast for the weekend and hot weather anticipated next week across the interior. It said that could mean ongoing accelerated snowmelt leading to continued rapid rises on the Fraser throughout next week.

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“Current modelling is indicating the potential for flows in the 12,000 [cubic metres per second] range at Hope (gauge level at Mission of approximately 6.0 – 6.5 m) by late next week, and potentially higher over the May 19-22 period,” said a media release from the agency.

Ten-day Lower Fraser River water level forecasts from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development can be found here.

The River Forecast Centre says areas of particular concern this weekend include:

  • Fraser River at Shelley (Water Survey of Canada gauge 08KB001) is flowing at approximately 2900 m3/s (approaching a 2-year flow)
  • Fraser River near Marguerite (WSC 08MC018) is flowing at approximately 5070 m3/s (between a 2-year and 5-year flow) and rising
  • Fraser River above Texas Creek (WSC 08MN040) is flowing at 5500 m3/s (2-year flow) and rising
  • Fraser River at Hope (WSC 08MF005) is flowing at approximately 8500 m3/s (approaching a 2-year flow) and rising
  • Fraser River at Mission (WSC 08MH024) is at approximately 9300 m3/s and 4.8 m

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