Rising temperatures raises flood alert

High temperatures in the West Kootenay have emergency program personnel on the edge of their seats with the possibility of flooding.

Recent record high temperatures in the West Kootenay have regional emergency program personnel on the edge of their seats with the possibility of flooding in some parts of the area.

The BC River Forecast Centre has issued a High Streamflow Advisory for a number of watersheds in the Kootenay and Boundary regions including the West Kettle, Kettle, and Granby rivers to the west and the Salmo, Moyie, and other small watersheds to the east.

The advisory means that river and stream levels are rising or are expected to rise rapidly, but that no major flooding is expected. Minor flooding in low-lying areas is possible, however.

Although snowpack levels in the region are at normal or near normal levels for this time of year that is apparently only one factor for the risk of flooding. Forecasters also have to take the rate at which the snowpack is melting into consideration.

The month of April began with a brief hot spell but that was quickly reversed and much of the remainder was relatively cool, with limited rainfall.

Although the accumulated snowpack in the high country began to melt early on it actually turned around mid-month and began to increase again.

The sharp rise in temperatures since the beginning of May means that the accumulations have now begun to melt quite quickly potentially threatening high streamflows in some creeks and rivers.

Regional Emergency Program staff recommend exercising extreme caution near river and stream banks and to watch out for large debris in rivers.  High water levels can push logs and other material into the flows presenting an increased hazard.

Forest fires were also spotted after high temperature records were set in several B.C. communities in early May.

The Southeast fire centre reported two fires discovered in late April, the larger one near the St. Mary’s Indian Reserve.

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