High snowpack brings warning

Flooding precautions have been issued in the South Okanagan due to a high snowpack.

Flooding precautions have been issued in the South Okanagan due to a high snowpack.

Flows in the Okanagan River are expected to be the highest since 2006 and the public is advised to take precautionary and safety measures around the region’s lakes and rivers. The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations issued the warning on Thursday in response to the high snowpack for the Okanagan, Kettle and Similkameen basins.

Over the next few weeks it is expected water levels and flows in streams and rivers throughout the region will rise significantly in response to melting snowpacks and/or rain events. Because of possible flooding of low-lying areas it was suggested that equipment and other assets from these areas should be moved to higher ground where possible. The ministry said during periods of high flow, river banks may be unstable and more prone to sudden collapse. The public is advised to stay well away from the banks of fast-flowing streams and flooded areas or bridges. Young children and pets can be at particular risk during this period.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations regulates the water flow of Okanagan Lake. To create space for the forecasted high inflows from snow-melt, the ministry has increased the release of water in the Okanagan River between Penticton and Osoyoos Lake.

High flows throughout the system are anticipated to last for several weeks, with Okanagan Lake expected to reach its highest level for the year in late June.

Provincial staff are monitoring water levels and, together with local government officials, will continually assess the risk to the public.