Russ Tompkins has his house well-protected in 2020 from the high waters of Shuswap Lake, but he’s hopeful the lake won’t rise past 2018 levels. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

Strong winds forecast for Saturday remain a concern for Shuswap Lake flooding

Residents appear to have been well-prepared for the high waters of 2020

Russ Tompkins is getting to be something of an old hand at flood protection.

Tompkins lives on the lakefront by the federal wharf in Canoe, near the Canoe Village Market.

His house is well-protected from Shuswap Lake and its rising water, thanks to sand-bag berms.

During an interview in 2018 he explained that the people who owned his home in 1972, one of the highest years on record for lake levels, raised the house to escape flooding.

Although the house has been in the family for more than 30 years, he bought it about six years ago. He experienced high water in 2017 and 2018 – and now 2020.

“I did the same thing in 2018,” he said of the sandbagging. “It protects my foundation from getting eroded – when you get that little wave action… But if it gets higher than my floor, my house is going to get wet.”

In 2017 the lake was a little lower than 2018. So far, he said on June 15, this year has been no worse than 2018.

“Not yet… But if it comes up another six, seven inches, it’s going to start getting worrisome. I’m hoping it should come up today and start down. I don’t know that – just going by experiences I’ve had in the past.”

Read more: 2018 – This year’s flooding doesn’t rival 1948

Read more: 2018 – In photos – Back to flooding in the Shuswap

Read more: 2018 – Flood waters causing destruction in Silver Creek

Shuswap Lake Watch lists the peak in 2017 as 349.072, with 2018 a little higher at 349.141.

Other years of note were 2012 when Shuswap Lake reached 349.44, and 1972 when it peaked at 349.66. Before that, 1948 was particularly memorable when the lake peaked at 349.82.

As of June 16 this year, the lake had risen to 349.038, according to Shuswap Lake Watch.

Tom Hansen, emergency program coordinator with the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, receives daily updates from experts with Environment Canada, the B.C. River Forecast Centre and provincial government departments.

Speaking on June 16, Hansen said it appears that Shuswap Lake is close to the peak, as long as there are no unexpected weather events.

He said the rain over the June 12 to 14 weekend was exceptional, providing as much rain as would usually fall in a month.

Friday saw about 10 to 15 millimeters, Saturday close to a whopping 30 mm fell in the Shuswap and, on Sunday, 10 to 20 mm – an average of about 60 mm over the weekend. He said the Shuswap was hit harder than most areas.

One area of concern is the potential for high winds on Saturday. With the lake so high, strong winds could be enough to cause flooding.

Hansen said a dramatic drop in lake levels is not expected during the next week, but the waters should start to go down after that.

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High water and debris separate the federal wharf in Canoe from land on June 15, 2020 as Shuswap Lake experiences another high water year. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

The warning signs at Canoe Beach stand in water as Shuswap Lake reaches high levels thanks to unusual amounts of rain over the weekend of June 13, 2020. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)

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