West Kootenay flood warnings rescinded – for now

BC River Forecast Centre has ended the high stream flow advisory for the region thanks to cooler weather.

Cooler weather has the rising water levels of the West Kootenay abating as the BC River Forecast Centre has ended the high stream flow advisory for the region.

The cool weather helped remedy significant snow melt and hot temperatures earlier in the last week, followed by heavy rainfall on Wednesday and Thursday.

River levels rose quickly and remained high through Thursday and into Friday, but when temperatures dropped — with current freezing levels around 1,500 metres — snow melt rates declined. Rivers levels like the Columbia and Kootenay have peaked and tributary waterways that were of concern such as Beaver Creek in Fruitvale are now receding.

But that doesn’t mean the worst is over. Heavy snowfall this winter has resulted in the fifth-highest snow pack in the province since the 1950s.

As a result, there is still “significant” snow at mid‐ to high‐elevations throughout the West Kootenay and Greater Trail region, meaning a seasonal flood risk still remains.

“River levels may return to levels of concern if adverse weather conditions occur,” the report warned.

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

The province is providing flood watch information on its DriveBC website so that people can check the status of the roadways before they head out this spring.

Several days of warm weather have led to high snowmelt rates and fast moving rivers — such as the Boundary’s kettle and Granby rivers — and streams in parts of the West Kootenay.

In fact, saturated hillsides have caused six washouts on provincial roads this past week.

People are asked to drive with caution and look for pooling water in low-lying areas, near creek and river crossings. They can check current highway conditions through 200 highway webcams on the Drive BC website at drivebc.ca.

Residents, recreationalists and visitors to West Kootenay waterways right now are urged to use extreme caution on and near all waterways, according to Emergency Management BC.

Floodwaters are fast-rising and fast-moving, typically carrying large pieces of debris and making shorelines unstable.

People should stay away from the water’s edge where increased flood risks have been identified, and be cautious of children and pets along rivers and creeks.

People should take the following precautions:

• Avoid small creeks and rivers, as their channels tend to be narrow and can fill up quickly.

• Watch for changing conditions, particularly if you live in low-lying areas or near waterways.

• Check perimeter drains around your property and ensure they are clear of debris.

• Drive carefully and never attempt to drive through floodwater.

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