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Many rivers reaching ‘near capacity’ as B.C. monitors closely for potential floods

Click to play video: 'Atmospheric river moves through B.C.’s South Coast, are there flooding concerns?' Atmospheric river moves through B.C.’s South Coast, are there flooding concerns?
The rain is coming down across Metro Vancouver on Thursday because of an atmospheric river in the area. Senior meteorologist Kristi Gordon explains how atmospheric rivers work and what we need to know about this one. She also provides an update on potential flooding in the province, including knowing the difference between a high streamflow advisory, flood watch, and flood warning. – Jun 9, 2022

Many of B.C.’s rivers are reaching “near capacity” and are being closely monitored by the province.

In a press conference Thursday afternoon, B.C. River Forecast Centre head Dave Campbell said the snowpack around the province coupled with potential rainfall and rising temperatures poses the biggest risk for potential flooding.

“In a typical year, we would see about half our snow melted (by this time of year),” said Campbell.

“We are seeing only about 20 per cent of the snow we have accumulated has melted.”

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Read more: Atmospheric river hits B.C., prompting more flooding concerns

The B.C. River Forecast Centre said the province’s snowpack melt is around three weeks behind normal, sitting around 165 per cent above average.

With many B.C. rivers and areas under flood warning, flood watch or high streamflow advisories, the province is potentially at risk for major flooding if a significant weather event were to take shape.

“This really will be the critical window for the freshet season across the province over the next two to three weeks,” Campbell said.

“With these rivers full, we are very much vulnerable to any kind of extreme weather pattern that can emerge.”

Read more: B.C. snowpack surges well past ‘normal’ levels; flood watch to intensify as heat sets in

Lower and mid-elevation areas in the province, such as the Cariboo Plateau, are at a lower risk of snowmelt flooding, as there is little to no snowpack remaining in those areas, according to the centre.

However, in the higher-elevation areas, such as the Cariboo Mountains, flood risks remain high, as many areas still have large amounts of snow.

“Not only is the melt delayed, there’s still a lot of snow to come down, particularly over the next few weeks,” Campbell said.

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“This includes areas around Cariboo Mountains, Quesnel River, North Thompson River and Upper Fraser River and some of these areas are experiencing record snowpacks.”

Read more: Residents along Tulameen River Road concerned about potential flooding

Emergency Management BC is warning British Columbians who may be in potential flood areas to prepare and be ready for potential evacuations.

“British Columbians should pay close attention to weather forecasts and local authorities,” said Pader Brach, Emergency Management B.C.’s executive director of regional operations.

“For those at risk of flooding I encourage you to plan now, prepare a grab and go bag, reach out to friends and family, who may be able to support you if you are evacuated so that local accommodations are available for those who have no other options.”

In preparation for spring flooding, Emergency Management BC said it has been pre-positioning flood mitigation assets across the province.

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Click to play video: 'B.C. on flood watch' B.C. on flood watch
B.C. on flood watch – Jun 9, 2022

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