Areas in the southern interior of British Columbia are under flood watch (orange) or high streamflow advisory (yellow). Photo courtesy River Forecast Centre.

Areas in the southern interior of British Columbia are under flood watch (orange) or high streamflow advisory (yellow). Photo courtesy River Forecast Centre.

East Kootenay under flood watch, high flows forecasted in West Kootenay

Spring melt, forecasted rain pushing Kootenay waterways to higher stream flows

A flood watch has been issued for the East Kootenay region, as modelling indicates high river flows and flood risks on Monday and Tuesday, according to the River Forecast Centre.

A number of rivers are at or approaching two-year return period flows, such as the Elk River near Fernie, Bull River southeast of Cranbrook and Kootenay River at Ft. Steele.

“Current hydrologic modelling is indicating risks for flooding over the Monday and Tuesday period, particularly in the East Kootenay region,” reads a bulletin from the River Forecast Centre. “Flows in the 5-year to 10-year return period range are likely, with flows in the 20-year range or higher being possible.”

The Regional District of East Kootenay is urging residents to stay away from the creeks and waterways and maintain situational awareness around water bodies, according to a release issued Sunday night.

“While we are encouraging residents across the East Kootenay, particularly those with flood-prone properties or those situated near waterways, to use extreme caution and take steps to prepare now in the event of flooding, there are a few key areas that could be susceptible to debris floods or flows if the forecasted rain materializes,” said Loree Duczek, Regional Information Officer for the RDEK.

“Fairmont Creek and Cold Spring Creek, which run through the community of Fairmont are both steep creek waterways that are more prone to debris floods during heavy rainfall events. In addition, the Morrisey and Fernie areas in the Elk Valley experienced a flood event in November, which makes these areas more vulnerable to severe weather as well.”

A high streamflow advisory has also been issued for Upper Columbia waterways, including the Kicking Horse River, Illecillewaet River and tributaries around Invermere, Radium, Golden and Revelstoke.

In the West Kootenay, a high streamflow advisory was also issued for Kaslo River below Kemp Creek, Slocan River near Crescent Valley and tributaries around Nelson and Creston.

While the spring melt is a factor, so too is forecasted rain in the region.

On Sunday (June 12), Environment Canada a special weather statement for the southern interior region, including the Kootenays, warning of prolonged rainfall.

Forecasted rainfall is expected at 30-50 millimetres from Sunday evening through to Tuesday.

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