No new flooding in Kelowna, B.C., overnight but threat remains
B.C.’s Central Okanagan district got a reprieve overnight as water levels didn’t rise as expected despite rainfall in parts of the district, including in the hotspot of Kelowna.
Previous evacuation alerts and orders affecting over 400 properties remain in effect, but no additional warnings have been issued.
However, the risk of flooding remains as showers combined with melting snow from higher elevations could boost lake levels, according to a release by Central Okanagan Emergency Operations.
‘Ive lived here since 1960 and I’ve seen lots of floods, but I have to say this is the worst one I’ve seen.’
– Eleanor Ware, Merritt, B.C., resident
“Despite less severe than expected weather overnight, rain and snowpack melt remain in the forecast, and the Central Okanagan is not out of the woods yet,” it read in part.
Emergency and public works crews worked overnight on Thursday, monitoring areas affected by flooding, and will continue watching streams and creeks.
Environment Canada ended a special weather statement for the region that warned of heavy rain and thunderstorms.
‘Very hard to predict’
Still, residents are advised not to remove any sandbags or other protective measures until they’re told that the flood threat is over, and to anticipate being cut off from resources for at least 72 hours.
More rainfall is expected in B.C.’s Interior throughout the weekend.
Ron Mattiussi, director of Kelowna Emergency Operations Centre, said while the current flood watch zone isn’t likely to change, his primary concern for the next 24 hours is now the water levels in the area’s local creeks.
“If Mission creek, Mill creek, various ones around the region, if those breach unpredictably, water will start moving around the region,” he said.
“That’s very hard to predict.”
Real-time monitoring data from the B.C. Forecast Centre shows flows in Mission creek rose from 50 cubic metres per second to 70 cubic metres per second over a six-hour period Friday morning.
Local engineers are now determining where to deploy about eight kilometres of portable dam resources being brought in from Louisiana.
Northwest of Kelowna in Merritt, longtime resident Eleanor Ware said the Nicola River bust its banks, sending water streaming towards her home.
“I have water just outside my door. My house is completely surrounded,” said Ware.
“I’ve lived here since 1960 and I’ve seen lots of floods, but I have to say this is the worst one I’ve seen.”
Long-term threat remains
Emergency officials also warn of a longer-term threat for residents near the shores of Okanagan Lake.
The regional district says the maps show the possibility of flooding over the coming weeks because most of the heavy snow has not yet melted.
Okanagan Lake and other smaller lakes in the region are already full or overflowing.
The River Forecast Centre has posted flood watches for many rivers, creeks and streams, from the Boundary region all the way north to the Central Interior, Thompson and Shuswap.
Flood watches are also in effect for the Bulkley River in the northwest, and the Peace region in the northeast, as rainfall warnings raise the potential for flooding in those areas through the weekend.
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