(Black Press Media files)

Higher-than-normal snowpacks mean parts of B.C. at risk of flooding

Two days of intense rain in May that year caused the worst flooding seen in 70 years

Residents in several British Columbia communities are being warned to prepare the sandbags and to remember social distancing measures if they’re helping their neighbours protect property from potential flooding.

Jonathan Boyd, a hydrologist with the B.C. River Forecast Centre, said Friday Prince George and the surrounding region are most at risk of flooding from upstream snowpacks that are near record levels.

One snow station that goes back 61 years was at its highest level ever when the latest measurements were taken on April 1, he said.

“The worst-case scenario, and it’s pretty well for any part of the province that’s susceptible to snow-melt flooding, is that if we have a cold April or even early May, so that’s a lack of snowmelt, and then we switch to extraordinary heat so in Prince George that would be 25 degrees over five to 10 days,” he said.

“That would result in a rapid melt of the snow all at once. And then an extra worse-case scenario would be having the rain fall on top of that.”

Quesnel and Grand Forks are among the communities that could be most impacted due to rapid snowmelt in Prince George.

Catastrophic flooding in parts of southern B.C. in the spring of 2018 forced nearly 2,800 people to flee, with Grand Forks hit particularly hard as homes were submerged in murky, brown water.

Two days of intense rain in May that year caused the worst flooding seen in 70 years.

READ MORE: Largest April snowpack in decades poses high flood risk to Fraser Valley

Kamloops is also at high risk of flooding because of the highest water levels since 1999 in the north and south parts of the Thompson River combined, Boyd said.

The regions of Kamloops, Prince George and Quesnel make up about 65 per cent of the water that eventually comes down through the lower Fraser Valley and any flooding above could affect Delta and Richmond, he said.

“The absolute worst-case scenario would have to occur but the snowpack is very high for the Fraser River,” he said of the largest river in the province.

The snowpack on April 1, 2018 was 127 per cent of normal and this year it’s 112 per cent, Boyd said.

“However, the areas of key concern this year are a lot higher than that year.”

Chris Keam, spokesman for the Cariboo Regional District, said water levels are rising in some areas and any widespread evacuations would cause challenges in housing people due to physical distancing measures during the pandemic.

“It’s getting warm up here and it’s raining today,” Keam said, adding free sandbags and sand are available at four fire halls in the region.

“We’re hoping that people can be prepared and ready to protect their property and have a plan if they need to leave,” he said.

The City of Kamloops is providing sand at two sites but residents are required to bring their own shovels and stay at least two metres apart while filling sandbags.

Camille Bains, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

$30,000 over 30 weeks for local causes

Send us your good stories and you could win money for your favourite cause

Tap Truck Okanagan launches as first location in Canada

The business is built on a restored 1957 Chevy panel van and ready to serve craft beer on tap, wine or cider

Golden’s pool to not open for 2020 season due to COVID

The tough decision was made on June 2 after council was presented with a variety of scenarios

Golden to host “Unity for the People” march in solidarity with George Floyd protests

The march will seek to educate the community on local and national injustices.

No active confirmed COVID-19 cases in Interior Health: BCCDC

Numbers from the BCCDC’s dashboard show 193 of the 195 COVID-19 cases in the region have recovered

VIDEO: B.C. dentist gets grand welcome home after two months in hospital fighting COVID-19

Michael Chow was given a surprise send off by hospital staff and ‘welcome home’ from neighbours

‘Like finding a needle in a haystack’: Ancient arrowhead discovered near Williams Lake

The artifact is believed to be from the Nesikip period between 7,500 BP to 6,000 BP

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

Friends, family mourn Salt Spring Island woman killed in suspected murder-suicide

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched for Jennifer Quesnel’s three sons

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Indigenous chief alleges RCMP beat him during arrest that began over expired licence plate

Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam calling for independent investigation

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Most Read