Big snow packs creating potential for more spring flooding in the Okanagan - InfoNews

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Big snow packs creating potential for more spring flooding in the Okanagan

Many docks around the Okanagan have been severely damaged, or completely torn away due to rough waves caused by heavy winds.
January 24, 2018 - 1:04 PM

Oh no, not again?

It’s early season but large snow accumulations in parts of the Southern Interior are already showing signs of possible flooding this spring.

While the B.C. River Forecast Centre says snow packs are looking pretty typical across the province, the exceptions are the Okanagan and Similkameen regions which are already sitting at 123 per cent and 141 per cent of normal for this time of year.

In its January 2018 snow survey, the centre says the oversized snow pack in both these regions may be early indicators of flood risk this spring.

The forecast centre notes it is a La Nina winter with three or more months left for snow accumulation in B.C. and a tendency to produce large snow packs late in the season, even in areas that show a modest January snow pack reading.

Late snow accumulation was one of the hallmarks of the 2017 flood season, compounded when an early warm start to spring melted snow packs quickly, causing Okanagan Lake to blow past its previous highwater mark to produce a new record lake level. However last year, there was no indication of late season precipitation whereas there should be plenty of time this year to lower lake levels. 

The resulting flood caused millions of dollars damage to both public and private property all around Okanagan Lake. Dozens of private docks were destroyed and both public and private property damaged by the rising waters.

The forecast centre does caution that much can change between now and April and that La Nina winters, while they usually produce more snow than normal, still offer a wide range of variability in the eventual accumulations.

Read more stories about last spring’s flooding.

To contact a reporter for this story, email John McDonald or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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