The B.C. River Forecast Centre says the risk of flooding in the Peace region is “just above average”.
Hydrologist Jonathon Boyd says the risk for the region is from low-pressure systems, bringing heavy rainfall, usually in June and July.
“We can have them come as early as May, and that happened, of course, last week.”
He also talked about the snowpack increasing from normal in April to just above average on May 1st.
“It’s more related to a delay in the snowmelt,” he says, which increases the risk of a rapid melt.
In late April, there were some localized snowfalls in the lower elevation sites, but Boyd explains they didn’t affect the snowpack on the mountains.
This preceded a flood watch warning in the Pouce Coupe River area last week.
“Typically, the snowmelt portion of this time of year doesn’t necessarily cause flooding for the Peace,” he reassured.
“It is typically the time when you get the highest sustained flows for the year, but what’s needed for flood is that additional input from rainfall.”
He explains that some of the rivers, like the Peace River and Milligan Creek, due to lower elevations, are at higher risk of flash floods from rainfall events, not the snowmelt conditions.
The Beatton and Pine Rivers begin in the Northern Rockies, so they typically peak in June and possibly July, depending on when the snowmelt happens, due to April being colder than average.
“Compared to other parts of the province, it’s not as risky in terms of the snowmelt-related flooding, but I’ve learned to never, ever say never.”
He does reference how wet the beginning of May has been.
Boyd explains that saturated soil conditions cause more rain to move quickly into the river systems, causing high streamflow advisories, which aren’t extreme compared to other years but are still significant.
“The rivers will remain vulnerable to that potential for an extreme rainfall event.”
He also says that the Peace is unique because there are deep valleys, where flows can get pretty high but not affect people, but it’s the bridges and river crossings to worry about and the potential homeowners that may be directly near the river.
“The most important thing I think is, when we’re at this time of year, no matter whether it’s flooding or just the sustained high flows, there’s the risk of course of erosion of banks.”
Boyd says that the most significant dangers lie in quick-moving rivers during the hotter months after the snowmelt.
Overall, he says the risk for flooding in the region is just above average due to the delayed snowmelt but mainly revolves around the risk of an extreme weather event.
Boyd suggests community members living close to risk and creeks to check out the government of B.C.’s ‘Be prepared for floods‘ website.
Thanks for reading!
Energeticcity.ca is the voice of the Peace, bringing issues that matter to the forefront with independent journalism. Our job is to share the unique values of the Peace region with the rest of B.C. and make sure those in power hear us. From your kids’ lemonade stand to natural resource projects, we cover it – but we need your support. Give $10 a month to Energeticcity.ca today and be the reason we can cover the next story.