A rapidly melting snowpack and localized flooding in the South Okanagan is starting to have an impact south of the US border.
The US National Weather Service and Okanogan County Emergency Management officials in Washington State are warning residents to expect flooding later this week.
“Right now we have some low-level flooding, the normal flooding we get about every year,” NewsRadio 560 KPQ is reporting director Maurice Goodall as saying.
“It’s gonna increase; the cities are all ready — all the way from Oroville, Tonasket, Riverside, Omak and Okanogan.”
Okanogan County officials are reportedly advising residents living along the Okanogan River “to be prepared to leave, and don’t wait until the last minute, but be smart about when you might need to go.”
Okanogan Emergency Management posted a summary of flood concerns on its Facebook page Tuesday morning:
- In the north end of Okanogan County, the Similkameen River (gauge near Nighthawk) is at 13.4 feet, which is in the action stage for flooding. The river is projected to reach 15.03 feet by Friday. When the Similkameen is running at this level, it backs up the Okanogan River’s flow into Osoyoos Lake.
- Osoyoos Lake is at 913.55 feet and rising. The Washington Department of Ecology, which operates Zosel Dam, says there is twice as much water coming into the lake than can exit. The dam’s gates have been wide open since March.
- The Okanogan River gauge near Tonasket (south of Janis Bridge) is at 17.09 feet — slightly over what was reached in 2017. It is projected to reach 19.85 feet on Saturday morning. This level has not been reached since the 1970s.
- In Okanogan, the US Army Corp of Engineers, along with Okanogan County Public Works, started emergency repairs of the Okanogan River dike Monday. This dike protects the town of Okanogan.
- The Okanogan River gauge at Malott — about 98 km south of Osoyoos — is at 15.04 feet and is projected to reach 18.93 feet on Saturday.
North of the US border, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen — together with the Town of Princeton, Upper Similkameen Indian Band, Village of Keremeos and Lower Similkameen Indian Band — is warning property owners along the Similkameen River that access to properties, either by road or highway, may be compromised or become impassable.
The Regional District is reporting that the BC River Forecast Centre, Environment Canada and Emergency Management BC are all predicting increasing water flows over the next several days with potential of high flows and nearby creeks for the next 10 days due to spring snow melt.
All agencies are actively assessing the situation. Should conditions deteriorate, each local government will put Evacuation Alerts in place for their affected residents.