Editorial: Silver lining to those rain clouds

Heavy rains prolong high water but reduce wildfire risk in Shuswap

Complaining about the weather is kind of a national pastime and the Shuswap’s recent, seemingly relentless rainstorms have certainly earned their critics.

Along with adding to the damper of pandemic restrictions, the frequent bouts of heavy precipitation that fell over the past couple of weeks (including on Canada Day) also prolonged high water in Shuswap Lake. This certainly doesn’t help stress levels for owners of waterfront properties at risk of flooding – especially when the odd, disrespectful boater races by, with their wake reaching the shoreline. (Local authorities have asked that boaters be courteous and watch the height of the wake caused by their boat, which can result in increased flooding and damage.)

On a positive note, the B.C. River Forecast Centre was able to end its high streamflow advisory for the Salmon River. In a July 5 update, the forecast centre said river levels had past peak and were beginning to ease. On larger tributaries, including Shuswap Lake, flows were at or just past peak level. The South Thompson River at Chase appeared to have reached peak levels, though the forecast centre warned that with additional rain, the river could rise again.

READ MORE: Heavy rain in Okanagan results in slowest start to fire season in four years

READ MORE: Above average rainfall in Okanagan-Shuswap a positive for fire season: Environment Canada

The prolonged wet weather has also helped to reduce the risk of wildfires. Spring/summer 2020 has marked the slowest start to “wildfire season” the Kamloops Fire Centre has experienced in about a decade. As of July 1, just under 40 fires, covering about 120 hectares, had burned in the Kamloops Fire Centre’s area, which includes the Shuswap. At the same time last year there were about 190 fires that covered close to 1,000 hectares.

For all of the province, as of July 6 only 193 wildfires had been recorded for 2020, with 148 of them believed to have been person caused.

No doubt the weather will soon change, bringing sunnier days and appeasing calls for the return of summer. In the meantime, some may appreciate the silver lining to those rain clouds.

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