Another half-metre added to expected high-water mark on Okanagan Lake

By The Canadian Press
June 5, 2017 - 11:53am Updated: June 5, 2017 - 5:29pm

KELOWNA, B.C. — A park along Okanagan Lake could be under water and hundreds of other public and private properties could also be damaged if the lake reaches a predicted maximum of 343.5 metres, officials say.

Dramatic flood zone maps for the downtown area in Kelowna, B.C., presented at a news conference showed water reaching from the lake to cover all of City Park, most of Stuart Park, all of Manhattan Point, and the north half of the Prospera Place arena property.

“It’s pretty scary,” Mayor Colin Basran said afterwards. “But we’re pretty fortunate so far that the protection that’s put in place is doing its job.”

In addition to 200,000 sandbags added to the local supply on Monday, another 250,000 are expected on Tuesday.

The lake was at an elevation of 343.24 meters above sea level on Monday, already a historic high point.

Peak water level is forecast for about June 17 as one-third of the mountain snowpack has yet to melt, though the date could vary depending on temperature and rainfall.

Hot weather Tuesday and Wednesday, with temperatures around 30 C, is expected to quicken the snowmelt and increase the flow of Mission Creek, which carries one-third of all water that enters Okanagan Lake.

“It all depends on if it rains hard, or if it’s hotter than predicted,” city manager Ron Mattiussi said. “It’s not an exact science.”

It is not possible to predict the depth to which the area would be flooded, Mattiussi said, adding that would depend on local topography and water levels would vary “area by area.”

Officials stressed the map projections were a worst-case scenario, though they advised property owners in the expanded flood zone to redouble efforts to sandbag their homes.

Flood defences along the mouth of Mill Creek and Mission Creek were being enhanced, as were waterfront areas near Kelowna General Hospital.

The River Forecast Centre is maintaining a flood watch for the Shuswap and Thompson rivers, but officials in Kamloops expect levels of the North and South Thompson to drop by midweek.

Central Okanagan crews say Kalamalka Lake is down half a centimetre since Sunday. (Kelowna Daily Courier, The Canadian Press)

Ron Seymour, Kelowna Daily Courier, The Canadian Press

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