Despite above average snowpack, risk of flooding in Okanagan Lake still low | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Despite above average snowpack, risk of flooding in Okanagan Lake still low

FILE PHOTO – Okanagan Lake dam at Penticton.
March 11, 2021 - 1:00 PM

Snowpacks are currently above average in the Thompson-Okanagan region, but they don't appear to be a flooding threat - at least not yet.

Okanagan Lake dam operator Shaun Reimer with the ministry of natural resource operations says he’s taking a conservative approach to the level in Okanagan Lake following analysis of this month’s snowpack and inflow rates for the lake which remind him of 2016, the year there was severe flooding.

Reimer says the inflow rate into Okanagan Lake was 123 per cent of normal in February but dropped to 110 per cent of normal in March.

“Looking at the lake, you’ll see lower levels coming up, in anticipation of a higher runoff. The inflow forecast is higher than normal, but not by much,” Reimer said.

READ MORE: Is your Okanagan home at risk of flooding? There's now a website to help you figure it out

Based on the past four years, in which three have resulted in higher than normal lake levels, Reimer says he plans to be “somewhat conservative.”

“No two years are the same, but this year’s high elevation snowpack without much on the lower elevations reminds me of 2016. That’s what we had then. It won’t shake out that way because no two years are the same, but we had a similar vertical differential that year,” he says.

Snowpacks melted early in 2016, with the Okanagan snowpack reportedly completely melted by mid- April.

READ MORE: Time for B.C. government to get serious about Okanagan Lake flooding: OBWB

Snowpack levels across the Thompson and Okanagan are all above normal for March.

Here's the latest date from the River Forecast Centre:

  • North Thompson snowpack is at 110 per cent in March, up from 111 per cent in February.
  • South Thompson snowpack is at 106 per cent in March, up from 105 per cent in February.
  • Okanagan snowpack is at 120 per cent in March, up from 111 per cent in February.
  • Similkameen snowpack is at 124 per cent in March, up from 101 per cent in February.

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