The Town of Osoyoos is taking a prudent route forward as active weather invades the South Okanagan.
The Town this afternoon said it is preparing to take precautionary measures — though not necessarily implementing them — and may sandbag its critical infrastructure along the lake shore, including sewer lift stations.
“We are being proactive, in anticipation of the heavy rain in the next few days and the higher temperatures bringing down the snow melt into the Similkameen River,” the Town said in a release.
It is encouraging other residents and business owners along the shores of Osoyoos Lake who have had high water levels and needed to sand bag in previous years, to plan access to sandbags by calling either the Town of Osoyoos or the RDOS.
The Town is currently awaiting a new shipment of sandbags and sand from the Province. Location of those will be posted on the Town’s website www.osoyoos.ca as soon as they are delivered.
“This is a good opportunity for Osoyoos and area residents to also be proactive,” the Town says. “Make sure to check and clear culverts on your property, remove machinery or equipment and valuables that may potentially be affected by flooding.
“Those neighbourhoods and areas that have experienced flooding in the past should remain alert for signs of water blockages, debris filled creeks near culverts and weirs. Report these to the RDOS or Town of Osoyoos.
It is also encouraging residents to be “a good neighbour” and check in on neighbours or those who may have mobility issues.
A repeat of last week’s weather pattern — increased temperatures followed by intense rain and storm activity — has the provincial River Forecast Centre issuing high streamflow advisories for much of the BC Interior, including the Okanagan and Similkameen.
The centre expects rivers to start rising late-Thursday, with high flows on Friday and into Saturday, or later in rivers with longer response times.
“This current weather pattern is very similar to the one last week that resulted in significant flooding throughout the region,” says the forecast centre in a release May 10.
“Similar conditions, or potentially more severe conditions, are possible later this week and weekend.
Advisories in the Okanagan were issued for small streams and rivers throughout the valley, including the Okanagan channel.
Advisories were also issued for the Similkameen and Tulameen rivers to the west and Kettle River to the east. Additional streams and rivers in the Boundary region are also noted in the advisory.
Although dry conditions over the past few days have reduced river levels throughout the region, temperatures across southern BC were warmer on Wednesday, with temperatures reaching into the low to mid-twenties. This is expected to bring a gradual increase in snow melt at higher elevations.
As well, late-Thursday and into Friday, a cold front is expected to pass through the region, bringing rain and the potential for thundershowers and periods of increased intense rainfall.
Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for the region indicating the potential risk of rain and thundershowers.
At the moment, the areas with a greater likelihood of flood conditions include streams and rivers in the Thompson-Nicola, Okanagan, Shuswap, and Boundary regions.
High river and stream levels may impact Osoyoos Lake.
Its levels are determined by several factors, including the control of flow at the Oroville-based Zosel Dam in Washington State and Okanagan Dam in Penticton; stream-flow into Okanagan River between Penticton and Osoyoos; and the flow levels of the Similkameen River, which joins Okanogan River near Oroville.
This morning, the lake’s level was recorded at 912.98 feet, about 12 inches higher than normal for this time of year. The lake’s level has risen steadily since May 1, climbing almost two feet over the first 10 days of the month.
Officials are also urging caution, warning residents that quick-flowing water and adjacent riverbanks are potentially unsafe and to stay away from washouts near rivers, creeks and culverts.
Special care should be taken with children and pets, who are more likely to be swept away in high water.