Contributed Concerns following last spring’s flooding on Okanagan Lake have experts watching snowpack and lake levels this year.

Feature Friday: High snowpack has lake watchers on alert

Expert says its too early to predict how the snowpack will impact lake levels in the spring

If there was a lesson to be learned from last year’s flooding in the Okanagan—at least when it comes to the level of Okanagan Lake—it’s that anything can happen, says Shaun Reimer.

Reimer, the section head for public safety and protection at the Ministry of Forest, Lands, Natural Resource Protection and Rural Development, is the person in charge of releasing water from Okanagan Lake in order to moderate its level.

Feature Friday: Climate change impacts Okanagan Lake

Last year, after snow in the mountains melted quickly due to unseasonably warm weather in the spring, and aided by heavy rains, area creeks first overflowed their banks and then sent a historically high torrent of water flowing into Okanagan Lake, driving its level up to historic highs.

With the amount of water that could be safely released from the lake at its south end into the Penticton River channel limited, several areas along the lakeshore saw flooding in the areas of the north, central and south Okanagan experienced flooding.

“Last year was so strange,” said Reimer. “It was so outside the box.”

While it’s still early, Reimer said he is keeping an eye on the snowpack levels in the mountains but admitted it is hard to plan for the spring because it’s not clear yet what Mother Nature may throw at this area in March and April.

Related: High snowpack for the Okanagan

Related: Special avalanche warning issued for B.C. Interior

He said in previous years, when there has been an above-average snowpack in the mountains and the weather has cooperated, the flow of water down creeks and into the lake has been manageable and there has been no flooding. But last year, when the snow pack was at just 79 per cent of average in January and 80 per cent of average in February, the heavy rain and warm weather in early March created widespread flooding.

Currently, according to the B.C. River Forecast Centre, the snowpack in mountains above the Okanagan is around 20 per cent higher than average. Normally, this area sees about half its snowpack total by this time of the year.

Reimer said at this point, it’s a “wait-and-see” situation when it comes to figuring out how to deal with a possible repeat of last spring’s flooding. With a clearer picture emerging in February, he will start to look at possible lake level targets for the spring.

Over the winter, he said, the lake level can’t go down any more than 15 to 20 centimetres below the target level in order to protect fish spawning areas. Currently it is about five centimetres below the target.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.



awaters@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Tsunami warning issued for coastal British Columbia

Warning issued following 8.0 earthquake off Kodiak, AK

Young PIB man skips jail time for grad party assault

Aaron Jack-Kroeger was sentenced to a 15-month conditional sentence in Penticton’s courthouse

Angels at The Mule

Penticton nightclub introduces angel shots for safety

Honesty turns to harsher jail sentence for Penticton man

Jakob Holmes kicked a cop in the face while she was on the ground after she attempted to arrest him

Update: Fire at Osoyoos business believed to have started on lower level

A fire started on Sunday night at the East Indian Meat Shop and fruit stand

Testing the Google Arts & Culture app

Going face to face with art

VIDEO: Fuel truck and train collide in B.C. causing massive fire

More emergency crews are still arriving on scene of a massive fire at the Port Coquitlam rail yard.

Back to work: U.S. government shutdown ends after Democrats relent

Short-term spending measure means both sides could see another shutdown stalemate in three weeks

Man lives despite malfunctioning defibrillator at B.C. arena

A middle-aged man went into cardiac arrest after at game at Pitt Meadows Arena last Wednesday.

Cause of Northern B.C. seaplane crash released

TSB releases report on seaplane crash during a water landing in 2016 near First Nations community

Vancouver police crack down on pop-up pot vendors

Officers raided merchants’ tables on Robson Square late Sunday

Dryer explosion at Teck Elkview Operations

Locals report hearing loud bang

Bell Media, NFL take appeal over Super Bowl ad rules to top court

At issue is a ban on substituting American ads with Canadian ones during the game’s broadcast

Crown seeks 4.5 years jail for B.C. woman convicted of counselling tax evasion

Debbie Anderson the latest from group to face jail for teaching debunked ‘natural person’ theory

Most Read