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Posted: June 12, 2022

Flood watch in place for the region

The ongoing spring freshet mixed with the potential of 30 to 45 mm of rain over the next few days has prompted the BC River Forecast Centre (BCRFC) to issue a flood watch for the East Kootenay.

A flood watch means river levels are rising and will approach or may exceed the full bank. Flooding of areas adjacent to affected rivers may occur.

Waterways of concern include the Elk River near Fernie, Bull River near Wardner and the Kootenay River in the Fort Steele area.

“Rising snowmelt rates and unsettled and showery weather has been leading to rising river levels throughout the region. A number of rivers through the region are currently at or approaching two-year return period flows, particularly in the East Kootenay,” the BCRFC stated June 12.

“A low-pressure system is expected to migrate into the region from Montana tonight, bringing a period of wet weather to the region on Monday into Tuesday. Environment and Climate Change Canada has issued a Special Weather Statement for the Elk Valley and East Kootenay, which is expected to experience the heaviest rainfall, with likely total rainfall amounts in the 30-45 mm.

“Higher amounts are possible over higher terrain, and Environment and Climate Change Canada is indicating that there is some uncertainty with respect to the exact trajectory of the low and this will be a factor impacting the amount of rain in each region. Moderate rainfall (20-30 mm) is expected in other areas, including the West Kootenay and Upper Columbia.

“Current hydrologic modelling is indicating risks for flooding over the Monday and Tuesday period, particularly in the East Kootenay region. Flows in the five-year to 10-year return period range are likely, with flows in the 20-year range or higher being possible,” BCRFC outlined.

Given the uncertainty in the position of the weather pattern and heaviest rainfall, it is possible that adjacent areas in the West Kootenay and Upper Columbia also experience significant flows (e.g. exceeding five-year to 10-year flows), BCRFC stated.

The public is advised to stay clear of the fast-flowing rivers and potentially unstable riverbanks during the high-streamflow period.

Be prepared and know your hazards.

Lead image: Flood waters barge over the banks of the Elk River and wash over James White Park in Fernie in June 2013.  e-KNOW file photo


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