Wind worries as Okanagan lake continues to rise

Wind could create more flooding issues

UPDATE May 23, 11: 20 a.m.

Lakes across the Central Okanagan continue to rise toward record levels.

Okanagan Lake rose four-centimetres since yesterday morning to 342.91 metres, surpassing the 1990 flood level of 342.87 metres. That’s just nine centimetres below the year’s projected flood level of 343 metres.

“With the forecast calling for gusty winds later tonight and early tomorrow morning, wind-driven wave action could test waterfront flood protection measures,” reads the latest from the Central Okanagan Regional District Emergency service.

“There’s a potential for rain with possible thundershowers later today as a cold front moves through. As well, the warmer than normal temperatures through today have resulted in higher levels and flows in area creeks and streams, further reducing the snowpack in the higher elevations.”

Waterfront property owners who haven’t taken measures to protect their structures and properties from flooding should do so. During surveillance flights and a detailed Okanagan Lake shoreline survey by the Emergency Operations Centre, officials noted that many lakefront properties at risk of flooding have not adequately protected the shoreline to 343.6 metres, which is the projected high lake level of 343 metres plus a buffer for wave action.

To determine whether your property needs flood protection, go to the Flood FAQs section of www.cordemergency.ca/beprepared. That’s where you’ll find instructions on how to measure for flood levels and build barriers to the appropriate height to account for both lake level flooding and wave action.

Sandbagging stations are stocked and replenished daily at several locations throughout the Central Okanagan. Volunteers are still welcome at these locations to help with filling and loading sandbags. Visit www.cordemergency.ca/map to find the location closest to you.

Boating is still not recommended on Central Okanagan lakes as levels are moving higher and for safety reasons with the vast amount of floating and submerged debris and docks.

Find information on flood preparation, including sand and sandbag locations, how to effectively build sandbag walls and secure docks at www.cordemergency.ca/beprepared/flood-faq. For municipal information such as water quality, boat launches, park and beach closures, visit their websites:

MAY 23, 2017 6:30 a.m.

Waterfront flood protection measures could face an additional test in the coming days if forecast strong winds become a reality.

Officials from the Central Okanagan Regional District point out that lakefront property owners should install defenses, if they haven’t already.

Monday afternoon, Okanagan Lake rose enough to edge over the 1990 lake flood level of 342.87 metres. Water levels continue to rise and are expected to remain extremely high into July.

Winds from 40 to 60 kilometres per hour are forecast to move into the Central Okanagan tomorrow evening continuing into Wednesday morning. The result would be wind-driven wave action along the shoreline of the region’s lakes. Further complicating the weather picture is possible heavy rain during thunderstorms as a cold front moves through.

Waterfront property owners who haven’t taken measures to protect their structures and properties from flooding should do so. Warmer than normal temperatures expected through tomorrow will speed up the volume of snow melting at the higher elevation watersheds, further boosting flows of area creeks contributing to ever increasing lake levels.

To check whether a property needs flood protection, go to the Flood FAQs section of www.cordemergency.ca/beprepared, to get directions on how to measure for flood levels and build barriers to the appropriate height to account for both lake level flooding and wave action.

A detailed shoreline survey and surveillance flights were done by the Emergency Operations Centre to determine where flooding will likely occur up to 343.6m – the projected Okanagan Lake flood level (343m), plus the buffer for wave action. Officials observed that many at-risk lakefront properties lack adequate foreshore protection to this level.

Sandbagging stations are stocked and replenished daily at several locations throughout the Central Okanagan. Volunteers are still welcome at sand piles to help with filling and loading sandbags. Visit www.cordemergency.ca/map to find the location closest to you.

The Evacuation Order continues for two properties along Marchbank Road in the North Westside area of the Regional District. It will be rescinded when mitigation efforts are in place and it is again safe. Three residents from one property are affected while the second property was not occupied.

The Emergency Operations Centre thanks all the crews from the BC Wildfire Service for their efforts across the Central Okanagan filling, loading and building sandbag defences and helping residents in need as they protect their properties. Boaters across the Central Okanagan also deserve credit for helping to reduce potential shoreline erosion by keeping speeds and wakes down throughout the long weekend. And an especially big thank you to those who chose other activities, not going out on area lakes. Boating is still not recommended as lake levels are moving closer to the predicted 343-metre flood mark and with the vast amount of floating and submerged debris and docks.

Take care of your property and yourself

Residents should develop a household plan, put together emergency kits, connect with neighbours and learn about the local government emergency response plan for their area.

Guides on how to prepare are available online: www.gov.bc.ca/preparedbc

Residents are asked to stay away from floodwaters and keep away from shorelines. During periods of high flow, the shorelines may be unstable and more prone to sudden collapse.

Walking through flood waters is dangerous. Just over 15 centimetres (six inches) of fast-moving water can knock over an adult, and this water can contain various forms of contamination such as sewage, fuels or pesticides.

If you must walk in flood waters to evacuate, use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.

Homeowners and tenants in low-lying areas around Okangan Lake at risk of potential flooding should elevate or store furniture away from ground floor levels, clear perimeter drains, eavestroughs and gutters.

Be aware of your local government’s emergency plan for flooding, and learn the specific steps you can take to understand and mitigate the risk to your property.

Sandbagging is one of the most effective ways to prevent or reduce flood water damage. Homeowners who are preparing homemade sandbags need to be aware that two people should be part of the sandbagging process. It will take about one hour to fill and place 100 sandbags which will create a 30.5-centimetre by six-metre (one-foot by-20-foot) wall.

Residents should make sure they have enough sand, burlap or plastic bags, shovels and time to properly prepare. The Province provides local governments with sandbags; residents can obtain them from their local government.