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What is Lethbridge’s risk of flooding in 2022?

Click to play video: 'Lethbridge flood risk remains low despite ‘above average’ mountain snowpack' Lethbridge flood risk remains low despite ‘above average’ mountain snowpack
WATCH ABOVE: Snow on the Rocky Mountains is melting and beginning to enter Alberta's waterways, including the Oldman River in Lethbridge. As Eloise Therien explains, the flood risk to the city should remain low but it’s not out of the question – May 12, 2022

It’s been several years since any major flooding occurred on the Oldman River in Lethbridge.

However, snowmelt from the mountains and the arrival of some spring precipitation is raising the question: Is there any risk this year?

According to Luke Palmer, the emergency preparedness manger with the City of Lethbridge, his team has begun transitioning to daily monitoring of river levels.

“At this time, we are not overly concerned about the flooding forecast,” he explained.

“It’s mostly just because we’ve seen a mild spring, so we haven’t seen those high temperatures that have caused a rapid melt and the river system being inundated with water.”

Read more: City of Calgary preparing for potential flooding this year

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In 2017, Palmer said the province was on the verge of issuing a water advisory after rapid melting in the mountains caused the river to rise.

“Our main concern (was) water turbidity, where we had high levels of water coming through the river system, and it put a lot of strain on our water treatment processes,” he said.

“That’s the other side of things, is the actual water consumption and availability in the city.”

Alberta Environment and Parks conducts different types of measuring for snowpacks. Up-to-date numbers are available online, but they also send teams to measure in person.

“The last measurement was done on May 1, and we have seen that the range is from average to above average,” explained Khaled Akhtar, a river forecast engineer.

Click to play video: 'Flooded Manitoba communities brace for more rain' Flooded Manitoba communities brace for more rain
Flooded Manitoba communities brace for more rain – May 12, 2022

Akhtar said you can’t rule out the possibility of flooding, but it’s unlikely unless both rain and snowmelt happen at the same time.

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“Usually what happens when we’re getting intense rain, in combination of the high rate of snowmelt, then things might go sideways,” he said. “We cannot say (whether) we will be getting flooding from rain or not, because we don’t know.

“It’s very uncertain, and science is not in that stage at this moment where you can predict rainfall two or three months in advance.”

The city will focus on monitoring precipitation through June, at which time drought will become the main focus during the hotter months of July and August.

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