High winds add to flooding fears as storm approaches southern B.C. Interior

The concern is that the winds will whip up lakes that are already at flood stage
The Canadian Press on May 24, 2017

High water levels could persist for several weeks in British Columbia’s flood-weary southern Interior, officials warn.Residents also braced for another battering, as Environment Canada issued special weather statements for parts of Vancouver Island, Metro Vancouver and most of the southern Interior, including the Okanagan, advising that strong winds are due to hit late Tuesday and continue into Wednesday.
Weather warnings to expect gusty winds up to 90 kilometres per hour were also issued for Greater Victoria, east Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast.
There’s concern that high winds could whip up waves on lakes that are already at flood stage, especially Okanagan Lake where officials have said water has topped a depth of 342.91 metres, surpassing the levels during the flooding of 1990.
Winds are expected to be accompanied by cooler temperatures and possible heavy rain, further swelling waterways that the River Forecast Centre warned were rising from melting snow following a hot spell over the Victoria Day long weekend.
A flood watch remains in effect for the Nicola River near Merritt, including Nicola Lake, while high streamflow advisories are posted for almost a dozen rivers and creeks across the southern and central Interior, including Mission Creek, which runs through downtown Kelowna.
The cooler temperatures are expected to slow snowmelt, but Brian Symonds with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources said water levels will remain high.
“It’s not like a river flooding where it comes up and then goes down in a few days and then the danger’s passed. We are going to be high for several weeks,” he said, noting that potential damage from wind and waves could last into the summer.
Chris Duffy with Emergency Management B.C. said in a conference call with media on Tuesday that crews have been using short breaks in the weather to prepare for flooding by creating sandbag walls and installing inflatable dams.
About 1.7 million sandbags have been shipped to the area and more are ready to go if needed, he said.

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