Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News Snow covers Klahhane Ridge and the Olympic Mountains on Wednesday morning as seen from Port Angeles.

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News Snow covers Klahhane Ridge and the Olympic Mountains on Wednesday morning as seen from Port Angeles.

Okanagan flooding risk ‘moderate’

Barring some extreme, record-setting rain, flooding in Okanagan Lake is extremely unlikely this year

  • May. 11, 2020 12:00 a.m.

The snowpack in the Okanagan is continuing on a downward trend, though still sits at slightly higher levels than average.

The latest report by the River Forecast Centre, released May 8, shows the Okanagan region’s snowpack at 110 per cent of normal, down six points from the previous report released in April.

Jonathan Boyd, a hydrologist with the River Forecast Centre, said barring some extreme, record-setting rain, flooding from Okanagan Lake is extremely unlikely this year.

Although some areas are higher than others — Mission Creek was a concern brought up by Boyd, which currently sits at 146 per cent of the normal snowpack.

“There’s still quite a bit of snow in the upper watershed there,” said Boyd. “The biggest risk would be to have four or five days of extreme heat melting the snow than having a big rain system fall through right afterwards.”

Boyd said he was a little bit concerned for the Okanagan around February when the snowpack sat at around 130 per cent, but it has since subsided significantly.

“Since then, it’s been relatively dry overall,” he said. “There hasn’t been much snow accumulation in the Southern Interior. I’d suggest that its a pretty good situation for the Okanagan to be in.”

Even then, that number was nowhere close to what was seen in 2017 and 2018, when the snowpack hit 147 and 206 per cent of normal levels respectively.

“Definitely not as bad as it was two years ago or as wet as it was three years ago,” said Boyd.

As the snowpack tends to reach its maximum level in mid-April, no significant increases are anticipated.

The provincial average of snow measurements is 106 per cent of normal.

Seasonal flood risk is elevated in many regions, including the Upper Fraser East, North Thompson, South Thompson, West Kootenay, Boundary, Cariboo Mountains, Central Coast and Similkameen.

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