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Vernon News

Rainfall heavy, but not life-threatening

The Duteau Creek Watershed, a major source of Greater Vernon water.

NORTH OKANAGAN — Water levels are up following a period of steady rainfall, but it doesn't look like the region will see a repeat of last year's major flooding.

Emergency management coordinator Brent Watson says he's monitoring the weather closely and keeping in contact with Environment Canada. "Right now, there are no indications of life-threatening flooding, and the pattern seems to be shifting south with Kelowna being hit pretty hard right now," Watson says.

Environment Canada has issued a rainfall warning for Vernon and is predicting 10-20 mm of rain Thursday. There's a 40 per cent chance of showers Friday. Despite all the rain, Watson isn't anticipating any major flooding.

He says it's lucky a large chunk of the region's snowmelt was released earlier this spring. If it had coincided with the rainfall of the past couple of days, there likely would have been a problem.

"That's what caused last year's floods," Watson says. "We were getting one in 50 year flows, but the reality is that's happening more and more often with climate change."

In his time as a firefighter, and now emergency coordinator, Watson says he's witnessed an increase in flooding. "It used to be that fires were our primary concern, but flooding has eclipsed it," he says. "The time we spend on flooding is 50 times more than on fires. No one predicted that."

He says flooding can consume more resources than fighting fires.

"It's not like a fire that you can put out, you have to try to hold the water back," he says.

Watson is reminding the public to stay alert and know where sandbag stations are.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infotelnews.ca or call (250)309-5230. Follow on Twitter @charhelston

News from © iNFOnews, 2013

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