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B.C. River Forecast Centre predicts stable water levels despite rising temperatures

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B.C.’s River Forecast Centre says rising temperatures will likely not cause widespread flooding despite this year’s higher-than-average snowpack, but residents should still be cautious.

“We’re in a bit of a balance right now,” said Dave Campbell, head of the River Forecast Centre. “Think about those areas with more snow. It’s really those areas in higher elevation terrain. A lot of areas are probably not going to see a lot of response to the warming.”

That said, Campbell noted that some areas will likely see increased water levels.

“In those higher elevation sites, we’re going to expect a bit of an upswing. We’re looking at areas in the Purcell Mountains and the Rocky Mountains, where we’re expecting a bit of a bump with that increased snow melt,” explained Campbell.

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In response to the coming warmer weather, the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) is putting in work to get ahead of any possible situation.

“We’ve been out and about, with boots on the ground across the central subregion, which is the Cranbrook-Kimberley area, the Columbia Valley and the Elk Valley,” said Loree Duczek, RDEK information officer. “We’re continuing to monitor, particularly areas where we’ve experienced flooding in the past, but really, all of our local waterways.”

The RDEK’s flood response unit and emergency response unit are still active in case the situation changes.

Campbell said the river systems seem to be handling the increased volume of melting snow for now.

“In those upper elevation sites, above 2,000 metres, we’re about halfway through the snow we started the season with,” explained Campbell. 

“In other areas with lower elevation, like most of the East Kootenay, Boundary region and into the Okanagan, most of that snow is gone. It’s really just the higher elevation sites where we’re expecting that we’re getting close to seeing a significant response from that snow.

“Rivers themselves are extremely high for this time of year, and it’s really reflecting that we’re at that peak of snow melt right now.”

Duczek said residents should stay away from shorelines where water levels are rising, and those who live in low-lying and flood-prone areas can prepare ahead by getting sandbags ready.

“With these kinds of weather conditions, it’s really important to remember that Mother Nature is in charge, and we never know exactly where things are going to hit, or if they’re going to hit at all,” said Duczek.

“The really important message for people is to have personal preparedness, situational awareness. And of course, be part of the team and if you see or experience flooding, please report it at 250-489-9677.”

As of Thursday, the B.C. River Forecast Cente said the East and West Kootenay are under a high streamflow advisory.

More: RDEK emergency information

More: B.C. River Forecast

More: Environment Canada weather

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