Rapid Upper Level Snowpack Melt Alert; Evacuation Orders: News Release #66

Sunday, May 21, 2017 - 3:24pm

Kelowna, B.C. – Unseasonably warm weather will accelerate upper level snowmelt and expedite the rise of Okanagan Lake and area creeks over the next two to three days.

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for the Central and South Okanagan including Kelowna and Penticton. “A ridge is building over the southern Interior of British Columbia and will remain in place Monday and Tuesday, leading to unseasonably warm weather. This warm spell will accelerate snowmelt and lead to rising rivers, possibly causing concerns related to flooding.” For more information, please go to www.weatheroffice.gc.ca.

The BC River Forecast Centre has issued a high streamflow advisory for the Okanagan, including Mission Creek. The advisory reads, “Snow melt rates… are expected to increase significantly over the next few days. River levels are expected to respond to this snow melt, with increasing river levels expected throughout the Sunday to Tuesday, or Wednesday, period.”

Mission Creek’s watershed, at 1,794m (5,885.9ft), experienced 23 millimetres (1 inch) of melt on Saturday and has more than 500mm (19.69in) of snow water equivalent remaining. High elevation snow melt rates are expected to rise to 30-40mm (1.2-1.6in) per day, or higher, through Tuesday. For more information, please go to: http://bcrfc.env.gov.bc.ca/index.htm.

People and pets should stay back from creek banks, which can be extremely slippery and are at risk of erosion.

The Emergency Operations Centre remains open; and BC Forestry and various municipal crews continue to provide on-the-ground support. The reception centre will reopen Tuesday, May 23 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. unless otherwise needed.

North Westside Evacuation Orders Issued

Evacuation Orders have been issued for 71 and 81 Marchbank Road due to a small landslide in this area off Westside Road, north of Killiney Beach. The private drive at 71 Marchbank Road has also been closed as a safety precaution to keep area residents from using the access as a walkway to Okanagan Lake. One home is currently unoccupied; the family of three from the other house found accommodations and did not request assistance from Emergency Support Services.

Okanagan Lake Levels and Flood Preparation

Okanagan Lake rose 3.7 centimetres (2 inches) Saturday, bringing the level to 342.83 metres (1,124.76 feet) – 4 cm (1.5in) off 1990’s flood level and 17cm (6.69in) away from this year’s projected peak of 343m (1,125.33ft). High temperatures are now causing the remaining upper snowpack to melt at a more rapid rate. Forecasters are advising that the melt above 1,600m (5,249.34ft) will increase significantly over the next two to three days.

Lakefront residents should protect their properties from flooding if they have not already done so. To check whether a property needs flood protection, go to the Flood FAQs section of www.cordemergency.ca/beprepared, to get directions on how to measure for flood levels and build barriers to the appropriate height to account for both lake level flooding and wave action.

Emergency Operations Centre officials conducted a detailed shoreline survey and surveillance flights to determine where flooding will likely occur up to 343.6m (1,127.29ft) – the projected Okanagan Lake flood level (343m/1,125.33ft), plus the buffer for wave action. Officials observed that many at-risk lakefront properties lack adequate foreshore protection to this level.

Sandbagging stations are stocked and replenished daily at several locations throughout the Central Okanagan. Visit www.cordemergency.ca/map to find the location closest to you.

Please, Don’t Boat!

Boating is not recommended because wakes can cause significant impacts on vulnerable properties. Boaters choosing to access Okanagan Lake are urged to drive slowly, stay away from the shore and avoid several areas at risk due to high waters and wave action:

Peachland

  • The entire downtown waterfront; specifically, Heritage Park to Buchanan

  • All day use docks and wharfs (closed)

  • Princeton boat launch (closed)

West Kelowna

  • Green Bay area

  • Casa Loma area

  • Pritchard Drive area

  • Whitworth Road area

Lake Country

  • Tween Lakes (canal) and entire Oyama isthmus area

  • Carrs Landing

  • Okanagan Centre

  • Turtle Bay

Westside Road (RDCO)

  • Wilson’s Landing

  • Fintry area

  • Killiney Beach area

Kelowna

  • The entire waterfront between Poplar Point and Cedar Creek

Boat wakes can have significant impact on vulnerable properties. Boaters are reminded that they can be fined for operating a power-boat over 10 km/h within 30 metres (100 feet) of shore. Boaters who choose to disregard safety notifications may also be fined.

Flooding has deposited significant debris in Okanagan Lake, including large trees, branches, and even submerged docks, making navigation on the lake hazardous.

Flood Protection Work Continues

Municipal and public safety crews continue to install flood protection works including sandbag walls, bladder dams and gabion barriers. The public is asked to leave these installations alone for their own safety and to ensure the continued protection of community infrastructure and property.

Debris washed up on beaches should be left for the time being, as logs and other wood material can help to limit erosion caused by wave action. When the flood risk has passed, officials will provide details about how beach debris will be removed.

Find information on flood preparation, including sand and sandbag locations, how to effectively build sandbag walls and secure docks at www.cordemergency.ca/beprepared/flood-faq. For municipal information such as boat launches, park and beach closures, visit their websites:

City of Kelowna

City of West Kelowna

District of Lake Country

District of Peachland

Regional District of Central Okanagan