A thick blanket of February snow helped amass the greatest local snowpack since early 2009. Spring conditions combined with a rapid melt are wreaking havoc on some Kootenay highways, mostly in the central region.
Other that a Highway 3 slide near Christina Lake earlier this week, conditions in the Kootenay Boundary are reported to be nothing out of the ordinary during the March freshet.
The City of Trail is staying ahead of flooding potential with regular monitoring of its 21 creek intakes, says Public Works Manager Larry Abenante.
“Snow melt is more or less normal for this time of year,” Abenante told the Trail Times. “Temperatures have been good in that the snow is melting during the day and with the cooler temperatures at night things tighten up with flows slowing down.”
Trail Creek flows have picked up, so the city has an excavator at the Gulch site 24/7, in the event trash racks fill up with debris.
”Today we actually cleaned the racks, removing material so that the creek can flow smoothly into the culvert,” he noted on Friday. “As for flooding complaints, we did have a few calls but only minor.”
As part of annual monitoring, a crew from public works routinely check the 21 intakes throughout the city; the most problematic are usually at Trail and Gorge creeks as well as the site on hospital hill.
The frequency of checks depends on factors like temperatures and rain events, so after last week’s warming climate, all intakes were monitored and cleared twice.
This week, Abenante was touring through town with an insurance appraiser who was inspecting a number of city sites.
“This is an annual deal,” he said. “And as far as this past weekend … we were all good, however we did get calls from the Village of Warfield for assistance with the use of our vactored in unclogging a storm line behind the Ray Lyn Motel,” Abenante added. “Which we responded to. Other than that, things appear good at this time.”
No major events have been reported in the Beaver Valley to date.
Montrose CAO (Chief Administrative Officer) Larry Plotnikoff says the village has not had a report of real flooding.
“While there is some pooling of water in places, the village’s storm drain system and the recent ground thawing has absorbed most of the excess melt run-off and rains.”
Beaver Creek levels are very high at the moment and appears to be in the lowland freshet right now, noted Fruitvale CAO Lila Cresswell.
“(There is) still lots of snow up in the watershed and highland areas though, plenty of water run-off but no reported unusual flooding,” she said. “We do have some areas along Beaver Creek that regularly have high water and bank overflow during melt, but not a concern yet for flooding. We are monitoring the situation daily to ensure we are on top of it and are experiencing some high inflow and infiltration in our sewer system.”
On Tuesday the Regional District of Central Kootenay activated its Emergency Operations Centre in response to numerous small flood and slide events throughout the district. Later that afternoon, the Deer Park Service Road near Castlegar was closed after heavy water flow caused part of the road to slide into the lake. The road has been deemed unsafe by a geotechnical expert. Eighteen residents of Deer Park are affected by the closure, as are property owners in Renata.
Clean up continues on another significant rock slide that happened Monday 10 km west of Creston on the Kootenay Pass. DriveBC advised the road remained single lane alternating traffic, with 30 minute delays, by press time Wednesday afternoon.