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No, Okanagan Lake will not peak this weekend

Rotary Beach is already flooded and Okanagan Lake could rise another 10 cm over the next week.
May 26, 2017 - 1:15 PM

If you’re confused about projections for what Okanagan Lake is going to do over the next few weeks, you’re not alone.

The City of Penticton issued a media release yesterday, May 25, with the headline “Okanagan Lake levels expected to peak this weekend.” Why this weekend or what they based the information on was not included in the body of the release. That information was carried by various news outlets.

This morning, May 26, the City of Penticton retracted it.

“Important Correction,” city spokesperson Mark Parker writes. “The Headline should have read “Lake levels Expected to Remain High Through the Weekend. The information in the body of the release is correct.” 

The Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre said this morning the lake rose only one centimetre overnight, prompting others to speculate the lake is near its peak. 

The best source for all this information is the B.C. River Forecast Centre and engineer Brian Symonds says the lake rose 2.5 cms in the last 24 hours and does not appear to be peaking any time soon.

"Another ten centimetres is not out of the question," he says. "With the accelerated melt... it will be several days or probably more than a week."

The director of Emergency Operations Brian Reardon told reporters Friday, May 26 the lake could even go another 15 cm.

Officials don't really want to talk about the peak at all, according to an EOC spokesperson, because they don't want residents to get a false sense of security while so much is uncertain. They refused to answer questions this week about what to do with sandbags after the flood because they want residents to remain vigilant.

And for good reason.

"Okanagan Lake is certainly going to continue to rise depending on what Mission Creek does," Symonds says, adding that there is still considerable snow at elevation yet to melt.

June is also typically one of the wettest months in the Central Okanagan.

Any talk of the lake level peaking will be premature because it all depends on future weather conditions. 

The EOC website recommends property owners build flood protection 90 cm above the current level, to account for waves caused by storms and boats and warns those near lake shores, creeks and rivers to monitor levels closely and maintain their barriers.

- This story was updated at 3 p.m. May 26 to include information from Brian Reardon.


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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2017
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