VANCOUVER — The Central Okanagan Regional District reports localized flooding in the wake of a powerful windstorm that swept across southern British Columbia on Tuesday.
The district says in a news release that residences in low-lying areas near lakes throughout the region were affected as winds caused a storm surge and whipped up waves, pushing already high water levels past flood stage.
The district says Okanagan Lake rose 4.5 centimetres during the storm, reaching 342.95 metres, five centimetres below its highest recorded level of 343 metres, set in 1948.
The Okanagan Indian Band issued evacuation orders for several lakeside properties southwest of Vernon, while the district warned residents that water saturated ground creates a greater hazard of falling trees in the aftermath of the storm.
Environment Canada says temperatures will drop significantly from the unseasonable highs recorded earlier in the week and the regional district urged residents in low-lying areas to use the break in the weather to fortify flood protection before another heat wave this weekend.
Recent warm weather accelerated the melting of heavy snowpacks throughout the southern Interior, and the River Forecast Centre says the Kettle, Nicola and Salmon rivers are on flood watch.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources says officials are not concerned that high levels of Okanagan Lake will affect the operation of the William Bennett Bridge, a floating crossing between Kelowna and West Kelowna.
“Operators of the bridge actually have made some adjustments to the tension, to the cables,” says Brian Symonds.
“(The bridge) was designed with the intention to be able to respond to changing lake levels, particularly when they go outside the normal range,” he says.
Symonds says the bridge is even beneficial because it acts as a breakwater and minimizes waves during strong winds, such as those seen Tuesday night.
The district has warned that high lake levels and flood conditions could persist into June. (The Canadian Press, CKFR)
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