Alberta Environment officials showed off some of their flood forecasting tools in Edmonton on Tuesday as runoff advisories expanded across the province.
The province has added 40 rain gauges along the eastern slopes of the Rockies to track water levels and automatically alert forecasters if water levels increase rapidly.
Last year, provincial officials were criticized for not providing better warnings about the heavy rainfall that ultimately caused devastating flooding in Calgary, High River and other areas of southern Alberta.
Northern Alberta is also vulnerable to flooding so a camera has been installed to monitor the river levels near Fort McMurray
Bernard Trevor, a river hydraulics and ice forecaster with Alberta Environment, says the camera will give them a new picture each hour.
“Both for Peace River and Fort McMurray there’s a higher than average risk of ice jam related flooding and that is based on the snowpack,” he said.
“It’s as high as it was in 2003, 2013. It may be just a little bit higher but because of that high snowpack we are saying it’s above-average risk.”
The spring runoff advisory covers Fort McMurray and the Peace River area and continues to just south of the city of Calgary as rising temperatures cause snow to melt rapidly. The Cypress Hills area is also included in the latest advisory.
Over the next several days water levels will rise in the smaller creeks with a possibility of flooding in low-lying areas.
Water levels are not expected to rise significantly in the major rivers.
Officials say flooding in southern Alberta will depend on the amount of rain that falls in May and June.