Rain worsens Shuswap flood risk

Weather forecast does not bode well for water levels.

Rain is expected to play a critical role in terms of flooding in the Shuswap over the course of the weekend.

David Campbell, head of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations River Forecast Centre, says that while water levels in Shuswap River have declined somewhat over the last few of days, the forecast for rain beginning Thursday is a very real concern.

He says the water level in Shuswap Lake is close to 2012 levels, but two-and-a-half weeks earlier than the usual freshet.

Salmon River levels have improved over the past week and the influence of melting snow is probably over for the year.

The snow pillow at Park Mountain that feeds into Shuswap River is 115 per cent of normal, down from last week’s 150 per cent, which Campbell says is potentially good news in terms of the snow melt.

“We’re in the thick of it now,” he says. “I think the next two days will be telling. If we don’t see a rise in the headwaters, it will be a positive sign that snow will be less of a factor.”

If it were just about the melt, Campbell says, the Shuswap might be through “the worst of it.” But, like 2012 when the Shuswap experienced severe flooding during a freshet that was fattened by a rainy June, weather will be crucial this year.

And the forecast is not promising.

Environment Canada meteorologist Cindy Yu says local weather is transitioning to a week of cooler, wetter weather, likely edging in late Thursday afternoon.

“Thursday through Saturday will be showery, with 10 to 20 millimetres of rain,” says Yu. “We do have the risk of thunderstorms being embedded, with potentially 40 mm of rain.”

The slow-moving low pressure system will also bring cooler temperatures, dropping from a forecast high of 31 C on Wednesday, to a more seasonal 23 on Friday and a high of only 18 on Saturday.

There’s the potential for a one-day break from the wet weather on Sunday or Monday, but then it’s likely back to a pattern of cooler, showery weather, says Yu.