Snowpack readings have officials cautiously optimistic spring flooding threat easing in Thompson-Okanagan | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Snowpack readings have officials cautiously optimistic spring flooding threat easing in Thompson-Okanagan

Okanagan Lake is currently sitting at 93 centimetres below full pool.
April 09, 2021 - 6:00 PM

A dry start to the year and some warmer than normal temperatures are easing the possibility of spring flooding on Okanagan Lake.

Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations section head Shaun Reimer, who controls Okanagan Lake dam in Penticton, says the latest lake inflow forecasts have been downgraded from the March forecast following a month of drier and warmer than normal weather.

Okanagan Lake level is presently at 341.55 metres, which is 93 centimetres below full pool. Reimer says the lake is at an average elevation for this time of year, although it is a few centimetres higher than at the same time last year.

“There is lots of room for changes at this point. I’m on a moderate outflow schedule right now, so I have some flexibility. I’m hopeful there will be potential to accept future unusual weather like last May, when we had double the normal amount of rain for the month,” he says.

Reimer says the highest outflow rate he has scheduled so far is for 35 cubic metres per second, compared to recent extreme years when he’s released up to 78 cubic metres per second.

“The difference in those flows amounts to about one centimetre a day in the lake, so If I have to change flow rates, there is some room. I’m certainly more comfortable with the present scenario than I was last year,” he says.

The River Forecast Centre released its April snowpack report today, April 9, considered to be one of the most important for indicating the potential for spring flooding.

Normally by April 1, 95 per cent of the year’s snowpack has accumulated.

Compared to last month, local snowpacks are down following a nearly precipitation-free March:

  • The Lower Thompson is at 122 per cent of normal compared to 136 per cent in March.
  • The North Thompson is 103 per cent of normal compared to 111 per cent in March.
  • The Okanagan is 109 per cent of normal compared to 120 per cent in March.
  • The Similkameen is 112 per cent of normal compared to 124 per cent in March.

The River Forecast Centre says the outlook for an easing of La Niña condition in the Pacific Ocean has led to a seasonal runoff forecast for near normal conditions in the Thompson, Middle Fraser and Okanagan Lake, with Kalamalka and Wood Lakes expected to be slightly below normal.

Near normal March temperatures have caused a slight delay in snowpack melt, but a warming trend forecast for next week should kick start snow melt at low and mid elevations, the centre says.


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