B.C.’s Southern Interior prepares for possible weekend flooding

Thunderstorms, rain could bring severe flooding to Okanagan, Shuswap, Kootenay-Boundary regions

With heavy rain, frequent lightning and wind gusts in the weekend forecast, regional districts in B.C.’s Southern Interior are preparing for possible flooding.

They are also telling residents to be wary around waterways.

“During the spring snowmelt, all Central Okanagan residents should be cautious around area creeks as water can unexpectedly rise and flow faster,” said the Regional District of the Central Okanagan.

“People and pets should stay safely back from creek banks, which may be slippery or subject to erosion from the spring runoff.”

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READ MORE: Flood watch issued for parts of B.C.’s southern Interior

“Areas of high water at the moment are most creeks and streams,” said the Regional District of the North Okanagan.

“The Shuswap River area south of Mara is getting higher. With the forecasted possible thunderstorms and possible heavy rain, we urge people to be cautious of flash floods anywhere near water.”

In the South Okanagan, the same warnings were issued.

“Please be aware of the potential freshet or spring melt which can result in higher than normal spring runoff,” the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen (RDOS) said on Friday.

“As a result, waterways including rivers, creeks and drainages could become hazardous.”

Heavy rainfall forecast for B.C.’s Southern Interior
Heavy rainfall forecast for B.C.’s Southern Interior

The RDOS added that the annual spring melt can destabilize soil and rock, causing mudslides, landslides and rock slides, which are unpredictable.

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“Please stay alert near or around waterways due to the potential for sudden changes in conditions,” said the regional district.

On Thursday, Environment Canada issued another special weather statement for the Southern Interior, stating strong thunderstorms were expected late Saturday, followed by significant rainfall on Sunday.

The national weather agency refreshed the alert on Friday morning.

In the Central Okanagan, the RDCO says its Emergency Operations Centre is continually monitoring weather reports and local lake levels.

“Higher than normal snowpack levels, warm temperatures and predicted rainfall are all variable factors that can combine to elevate the risk of flooding from creeks, streams and Okanagan Lake,” said emergency program co-ordinator Sandra Follack.

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“And while the risk of wide-spread flooding remains low, localized flooding is still a possibility as we have experienced recently. Property owners should be prepared.”

Okanagan water board online map helps valley prepare for future flooding
Okanagan water board online map helps valley prepare for future flooding

The RDCO says some lakes, like Kalamalka and Ellison, are currently above full pool, though it noted that Okanagan Lake is currently below full pool.

However, it added that current warm weather and this weekend’s rain may result in Okanagan Lake exceeding full pool, which is not unusual during freshet.

As a result of high lake levels, the RDCO is asking boaters to reduce wake activity close to the shore over the next several weeks, and to watch for floating debris carried into area lakes from faster-flowing tributaries.

Regional districts also say those living near creeks, streams and low-lying properties that have experienced flooding and high water in the past are responsible for having an emergency plan, as well as the tools and equipment to protect properties from possible damage.

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“In British Columbia, property owners are responsible for taking the necessary steps to assess and protect their property,” said the RDOS, adding “government emergency programs focus on broader flood response measures.”

The RDCO says waterfront property owners should take extra precautions, include securing their docks and making sure boat anchor lines are long enough that they don’t snap if water continues to rise.

Newshawk Video of Joe Rich Flooding
Newshawk Video of Joe Rich Flooding

Below is a list of flooding terms, provided by the RDOS:

High streamflow advisory

  • River levels are rising or expected to rise rapidly, but no major flooding is expected. Minor flooding in low-lying areas is possible.

Flood watch

  • River levels are rising and will approach or may exceed bankfull. Flooding of areas adjacent to affected rivers may occur.

Flood warning

  • River levels have exceeded bankfull or will exceed bankfull imminently. Flooding of areas adjacent to affected rivers will result.

Sandbag locations

Regional District Columbia Shuswap

  • City of Salmon Arm., Public Works Yard, 100-30th St. S.E.
  • Swansea Point: Swansea Point fire hall, 632 Davidson Dr.
  • Sicamous: District Public Works Yard, 1450 Solsqua Sicamous Rd.
  • Silver Creek fire hall, 1577 Salmon River Rd.
  • Falkland fire hall, 2915 Gyp Rd.
  • Tappen / Sunnybrae: 3580 Sunnybrae Canoe Pt. Rd.
  • South Shuswap: Shuswap fire hall No. 1, 1164 Passchendale Rd., Sorrento
  • South Shuswap: Shuswap fire hall No. 2, 2505 Greer Rd., Sorrento
  • Eagle Bay: 4325 Whitehead Rd.
  • North Shuswap: 5456 Squilax Anglemont Rd., Lee Creek
  • North Shuswap: 3852 Squilax Anglemont Rd., Scotch Creek

Regional District North Okanagan

  • Opposite the Mara Village Hall by the Rail Trail
  • Grindrod Park, 6917 Vernon – Sicamous Hwy
  • City of Enderby and Electoral Area F: Public works yard at 2308 McGowan Ave.
  • Electoral Areas B and C: At the north gravel parking lot of BX Swan Lake Fire Department, 5764 Silver Star Rd./East Dedecker Rd.
  • Village of Lumby and Electoral Areas D and E: Across from the arena on Shields Ave.
  • Crystal Sands Resort, 8192 Highway 97A

Regional District of the Central Okanagan

  • Ellison fire hall station 61, 4411 Old Vernon Rd.
  • Joe Rich Fire hall station 51, 11481 Highway 33 East
  • Fire hall station 52, 6550 Goudie Rd.
  • Short’s Creek fire hall station 102, 7355 Westside Rd. N.
  • Killiney Beach fire hall station 101, 514 Udell Rd.
  • Wilson’s Landing fire hall station 42, 2396 Westside Rd. N.

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen

  • Town of Osoyoos. Public works yards, 11500 115th St.
  • Cawston and area: Village of Keremeos Irrigation Pump Station, 900 Sparks Dr., corner of 1st and Sparks Drive
  • Town of Oliver: Public Works Yards, 5971 Sawmill Rd., and Oliver Fire Hall, 369 Similkameen Ave.
  • Willowbrook: Willowbrook Fire Hall, 3395 Willowbrook Rd.
  • Okanagan Falls: End of Cedar Rd, and the fire hall at 5013 11th Ave.
  • Vaseaux Lake: 117 Sundial Rd.
  • Naramata: Fire hall on Lower Debeck Rd.
  • Faulder – At post box pull out, at the junction of Fish Lake Road and Princeton Summerland Road.
  • Village of Keremeos, Olalla and area: Sparks Drive at the irrigation pump station.
  • Olalla: 2644 7th St.
  • Town of Princeton:  Princeton fire hall, 174 Penryn Ave.
  • Tulameen, Otter Lake, Otter Creek: At the fire hall.
  • City of Penticton: Fire hall No. 2, Dawson Avenue.

Regional District Kootenay Boundary

  • Beaverdell, behind the fire hall
  • Westbridge Hall
  • Riverside Centre in Rock Creek
  • Grand Forks Arena