Officials keep eye on rising lake levels

Lake watch: Shuswap Lake is starting to rise as the high elevation snowpacks begin to melt. The snow level is higher than normal for this time of year.   - James Murray/Observer
Lake watch: Shuswap Lake is starting to rise as the high elevation snowpacks begin to melt. The snow level is higher than normal for this time of year.
— image credit: James Murray/Observer

The arrival of warm, sunny weather will likely hasten the melt of high-elevation snowpack.

Data shows the current snow level remaining at Park Mt. that feeds Shuswap River and raises the level of Shuswap Lake, is higher than average for this time of year.

“The snowpack is heavier than normal and continuing to grow,” said Shuswap Emergency Program (SEP) co-ordinator Cliff Doherty Friday, pointing out recent heavy rains fell as snow at higher elevations. “It hasn’t stopped growing and a week of warm temperatures is coming at us right now.”

SEP is monitoring snowpack levels and early indications suggest there is potential for high water flows in area streams and rivers if the snow melt occurs quickly.

The level of Shuswap Lake has reached 348.22 metres and the BC River Forecast Centre expects the lake will peak in two weeks at between 348.5m and 348.8m, approximately the same as the peak levels experienced in 2011 and 2013.

Residents are responsible for having a personal plan as well as tools and equipment necessary to protect their homes and property.

Sand bags are now available for free and can be picked up at the City of Salmon Arm Public Works yard at #100 – 30th St. SE. If flooding is imminent, sand can be requested from the Shuswap Emergency Program by calling 250-833-3350.

Anyone going out on the lake should be on the lookout for debris in the water.

While a lot of debris from a May 2 mudflow on Cooke Creek was deposited into Shuswap River, Doherty says most of it has collected on the shoreline.

“SEP did have the debris assessed by regular lake users and all three came back saying it’s not really different than what it has been other years,” he says.  “It’s not a huge danger to public safety.”


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