High water, high fire risk usher in long weekend - InfoNews

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High water, high fire risk usher in long weekend

People are being asked to exercise caution as high waters are set to plague the Interior this long weekend.
May 17, 2013 - 12:15 PM

While many are looking forward to the Victoria Day long weekend, hospital officials are worried what might happen if the nice weather holds out and have already postponed surgeries as they prepare for a possible surge in capacity. The effect is often seen during the May long weekend and with Royal Inland Hospital already at 125 per cent capacity as of Thursday, administration is hoping people will be careful no matter what form of recreation they choose this weekend.

The weather is forecast to be about average in Kamloops, with highs of 19 to 23 C over the next three days but with a chance of rain today and Saturday, road and river conditions could change quickly.

In Kamloops the city is asking you to be safe on the rivers - water levels are higher than normal for this time of year which brings risks not normally associated with the May long weekend.

“This is very, very early to have water levels this high. People expecting a regular May long, well it isn't,” emergency coordinator Dan Sutherland says, “Especially on the North Thompson, there's a lot of large scale debris.”

Sutherland also warns boaters to be cautious around the CN Rail bridge – the water is quite high there and it is not recommended to use any speed coming up to that bridge because of possible obstructions. He expects the water level could come down over the weekend, but stresses this would not indicate the risk has passed as the snow pack is still in place at higher elevations.

The city has closed the Valleyview boat launch but the McArthur Park and the Pioneer Park boat launches remain open to the public.

In the Thompson Nicola Regional District Mike Garrett says it is always good to be water smart and to be mindful of burning bans.

“Last year rivers were rising quite a bit at this time,” Garrett notes. “Right now creeks, rivers and lakes are all rising.”

The province has also issued a caution for those around Nicola Lake and River near Merritt this weekend. Localized flooding is expected because of rapid snow melt and recent high temperatures which could also result in unstable banks.

The province is also reminding people that as of last year Tunkwa, Six Mile and Cherry Creek grasslands are off limits to off-road vehicles and camping throughout the year due to the sensitive nature of the grasslands and riparian ecosystems.

Kamloops Fire Centre is reminding the public all fires are prohibited – and that means fireworks, sky lanterns and fire barrels too. Below seasonal temperatures have brought the fire rating down to moderate heading into the weekend but with 47 human-caused fires already this spring information officer Michaela Swan wants everyone to be cautious.

“It's not just cigarette butts, it's campfires, all terrain vehicles, dirt bikes – we're just asking that you always be mindful. And if you see any unattended campfires or illegal burning call 1-800-663-5555 or dial #5555 on your cell phone.”

Around the province ICBC is asking people to be cautious on the roads this weekend. Victoria Day long weekend usually sees an average of 70 injuries from some 280 crashes in the Southern Interior every year. RCMP plan on cracking down on dangerous driving around the province this weekend.

To contact a reporter for this story, email jstahn@infotelnews.ca or call (250) 819-3723.

News from © iNFOnews, 2013

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