Higher than normal snowpack levels, warm temperatures and predicted rainfall are all variable factors that can combine to elevate the risk of flooding from creeks, streams and Okanagan Lake.
Local public works staff are putting in place measures to protect public infrastructure, and residents may see proactive flood protection along beaches and the lakefront.
Bladder dams, gabion barriers and sandbags will be installed at a number of locations along Okanagan Lake’s foreshore on a priority basis, making the most efficient use of work crews to get to as many areas as possible protected before the lake rises.
Residents in low-lying and waterfront areas that were affected by the rising lake levels in 2017 are encouraged to take similar precautions and use sandbags or other measures to protect structures on their property.
The most up-to-date information on sand and sandbag locations at is available at cordemergency.ca/map.
Waterfront property owners are also urged to take precautions, including securing their docks and making sure boat anchor lines are long enough so they don’t snap if water continues to rise.
In the past week, Okanagan Lake rose 48.5 centimetres to 342.31 metres, bring lake levels to 17 cm below full pool.
However, with a 30% chance of precipitation predicted for Wednesday night, it is likely that by Friday the lake will reach full pool at 342.48 metres and exceed this level by the weekend.
Following the historic flooding of Okanagan Lake last summer, officials this year have taken precautions to drain the lake in anticipation of increased creek flows.
Upper elevation snowpacks are starting to impact creek flows and downstream water systems such as Osoyoos Lake, which is already dealing with heavy flooding.
As a result, the draining of Okanagan Lake has been reduced to ease pressure on Osoyoos. Outflows were at maximum capacity (60 cubic metres per second) for the majority of April but have been reduced recently to 37 cubic metres per second as illustrated by the above table.
Understanding the numbers:
Okanagan Lake is 35 cm lower this year when compared to May 15, 2018, with the level this morning sitting at 342.296 metres.
The observed snowpack level at the Mission Creek reporting station on May 15, 2018 is 127 cm, compared to 150 cm on May 15, 2017.
Last year Okanagan Lake peaked on June 9, 2017 at 343.251 metres.
We are still 24 days away from last year's peak date and we are currently adding around six to seven cm per day to the lake level.
District chief administrative officer Linda Tynan, said "Okanagan Lake is currently increasing about three inches a day as tributaries throughout the region continue to handle large amounts of water. (click here for Summerland story)
Mission Creek in Kelowna is the biggest feeder into Okanagan Lake, but Trout Creek is a big feeder as well. Attention have turned very strongly to the lake (levels) as well,” she said. “As you know, it started out much lower than last year, so it’s still significantly lower than last year, but there’s new information coming in each day on the predicted highs for the lake.
“It’s still predicted to go maybe 20 centimetres over full pool, but not the additional that it was last year.”
The city issued a news release late Tuesday afternoon asking Penticton residents to be ready as water levels on Okanagan Lake continue to rise.
“The City of Penticton has been working with the province to assess current lake levels and the forecasted rise over the next few days,” said Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) chief Mitch Moroziuk. “Projections indicate a planning threshold of 343.00 metres. Measurements taken this morning indicated that the lake had reached 342.282 metres. By the City of Penticton's calculations, it is expected to reach 343.00 metres by Saturday, May 26.” (click here for Penticton story)
You can follow our daily updated story on Okanagan Lake by clicking here.