KELOWNA - The high winds produced by last night's storm that blew through the Interior left serious damage behind in the Central Okanagan.
Environment Canada predicted the northeasterly wind could reach 70 km/h overnight, and with the lake level already well above full pool, waves were expected to crest most docks. The forecasters were not far off. The top wind gust recorded in Kelowna was 74 km/h.
It was enough to down branches, break up docks and knock out power to hundreds of Southern Interior residents.
"High winds on overfilled lakes last night caused localized flooding for residences in low lying areas on Central Okanagan lakes," Central Okanagan Emergency Operations officials from say in a media release. "Emergency crews are out today clearing windfall from streams, inspecting and assessing flood protection measures and infrastructure to determine the top priorities for further action. Residents should be aware of the risk of falling trees within saturated ground conditions near lakes and creeks."
It also brought tonnes of sand on shore, creating beaches where they didn't exist before.
Okanagan Lake rose 4.5 centimetres overnight to a level of 342.95 metres, only five centimetres below the highest level of 343 metres recorded in 1948.
"A break in the weather today offers residents a chance to fortify flood protection," emergency officials say. "With lakes approaching historic volumes, the high water levels are expected to remain well into July. Residents are urged to keep protection in place for the foreseeable future."
In Penticton today, city crews are assessing the damage public lakeshore from the storm. The North Okanagan and Shuswap weren't spared, with trees uprooted and damaging wave action on area lakes.
In the wake of the cold front that produced the stormy weather, freezing levels have dropped on mountain pass highways in the Interior, and snow is falling.
The forecast is for warmer weather to return later this week, which could accelerate the snow melt and further boost creek flows into Okanagan Lake.
Sandbagging stations are stocked and replenished daily at locations throughout the Central Okanagan. A map is available at the CORD website.
— This story was updated at 11:05 a.m. Wednesday, May 24, 2017 to correct the speed of the top wind gusts in Kelowna.
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