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Delay in snowpack melt leads to growing flood fears in B.C.

Tuesday, June 21st 2022, 1:40 pm - With summer now here, there are concerns that flooding situations similar to what Kelowna saw in mid-June may happen soon in other regions in B.C.

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An abundant amount of alpine snowpack, nearly twice the average for this time of year in B.C., is a cause for concern for potential flooding in the province in the near future.

Jaclyn Whittal, a meteorologist at The Weather Network, recently spoke to Dave Campbell, head of the B.C. River Forecast Centre, about the worrisome flood threat.

BCSNOWPACK

Because of the excessive amount currently on the ground, “we really do need to get through these next couple of weeks,” Campbell said.

"We're very much in the middle of the snowmelt [part] of the season. This is the time of the year [when] the province is exposed to increased risks, if that snowpack that is built up over the mountains melts off, " said Campbell.

Normally at this time of the year, about three-quarters of the snow would be gone, but as of mid-June, only about half of the existing upper-elevation pack has melted, he said.

Whittal noted the mid-level snowpack across the Okanagan Valley has been gone for a while now, but it's the higher altitude locations we need to monitor in the coming weeks, due to additional rainfall and the melting snow.

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Flood watches are currently in effect for the central coast, Quesnel River, and the north and south Thompson rivers, as well as Liard River including tributaries around Fort Nelson and Highway 97 towards Watson Lake.

High streamflow advisories are in place for the Peace River basin, lower Fraser River, waterways in the northwest section of B.C., and eastern and western Kootenay.

Earlier this month, local states of emergency were declared in Kelowna and Sparwood because of isolated flooding occurring along Mission Creek, Scotty Creek, upper reaches of Mill Creek, officials said.

"The hot weather scenario remains a key concern for flood risk," said Campbell. "We continue to be challenged by the ongoing unsettled patterns that we've seen over the past couple of months."

Stay tuned to The Weather Network as we continue to monitor the flood risk situation in B.C.

With files from Jaclyn Whittal, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.

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