On Thursday, May 10, when the Salmon River had reached peak levels of 77.7 cubic meters per second, water was licking at the base of the deck. A log stuck underneath the bridge was removed that morning and a beaver was found dead on the bridge. (Martha Wickett/Salmon Arm Observer)

Salmon River might not rise beyond last week’s high

New forecast predicts level of 74 cubic meters per second, less than Thursday’s 77.

Some good news, of sorts, for those people dealing with flooding in the Shuswap.

Despite temperatures in the high-20s in Salmon Arm and area over the weekend, flood levels in the Salmon Valley are not expected to exceed levels reached last Thursday, May 10.

While officials with the Columbia Shuswap Regional District are still encouraging residents to be prepared and vigilant, a surge in the Salmon River predicted by the BC River Forecast Centre may not occur.

Derek Sutherland, the CSRD’s team leader with protective services, explains the centre’s forecast is sometimes not 100 per cent accurate as it is taken from averages of the snow pack across the region.

As of Sunday, the Salmon River was flowing at 58 to 59 cubic meters per second.

The initial forecast for later this week was for a possible flow of 107 cubic meters per second – far exceeding the 77.7 level experienced last Thursday.

Related: In photos – back to flooding in the Shuswap

After two helicopter flights above the valley, one on Thursday by the CSRD with Sutherland and the regional district’s geotechnical engineer on board, and another on Sunday by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations with the regional district’s hydrologist on board, a different forecast was reached.

It was on Thursday, Sutherland says, that local officials got the idea that this area’s snowpack might not be large enough to produce the flows estimated by the river centre.

“There really wasn’t a lot of snow up there.”

Related: Salmon River updated to flood warning status

On Sunday’s flight, after a day of 30-degree temperatures, officials were able to better gauge what might happen with continued warm weather.

The readjusted forecast for the Salmon River is 74 cubic metres per second as the high for this Wednesday, May 16 and Thursday, May 17.

“It’s still getting close to what we were getting at the peak,” Sutherland says. “It’s still something to be concerned about…, but it’s not as devastating a number as 77 or 80.”

Related: Flood waters causing destruction in Silver Creek

A news release from the CSRD Sunday recommends that residents along the Salmon River review their personal emergency plan and be prepared to evacuate on short notice.

Also, “approach water crossings, such as bridges, carefully as the approach may be undermined, keep away from river banks and move animals to higher ground. The Shuswap Emergency Program will continue to monitor river levels and up-to-date information will be made available on the CSRD website. If you require support, including sand and sandbags, contact the Shuswap Emergency Program at 250.832.2424.”


@SalmonArm
marthawickett@saobserver.net

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