British Columbia

Flooding fears rise as 'unseasonably warm weather' hits south Okanagan

Emergency officials in the Okanagan say "unseasonably warm weather" is expected to hasten upper level snowpack melt, possibly leading to more flooding.

High winds and cooler temperatures expected to follow by Tuesday night

Municipalities along Okanagan Lake are continuing to prepare for potential flooding. (City of Kelowna)

Emergency officials in British Columbia's Okanagan say "unseasonably warm weather" is expected to hasten upper level snowpack melt, possibly leading to more flooding from the region's already full rivers, creeks and lakes.

Environment Canada and the B.C. River Forecast Centre issued warnings for the region, which has been on alert for more than two weeks after a combination of snowpack melt, heavy rain and saturated soil flooded various parts of the Interior. 

"It's the kind of weather that we would normally want on a May long weekend," said Jason Luciw, spokesman for the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre. 

"But not the kind of weather you want to see when Okanagan Lake levels are where they're at."

Water levels on the lake have been inching towards flood levels not seen since 1948

Okanagan Lake is inching closer to levels seen during the flooding of 1948. (Central Okanagan Emergency Operations)

The centre said the lake rose 3.7 centimetres Saturday. Luciw said the lake is within 13 centimetres of this year's projected peak of 343 metres, and it could exceed those projections, depending on the weather. 

The centre is still asking boaters to stay off Okanagan Lake.

Although boaters can still access the lake, the centre is urging them to "drive slowly, stay away from the shore and avoid several areas at risk due to high waters and wave action."

The centre also warned boaters of "significant debris" like large trees and branches in the lake, brought on by flooding.

The River Forecast Centre's high streamflow advisory includes Mission Creek, which runs alongside residential properties through downtown Kelowna. 

Environment Canada said cooler temperatures and strong winds are expected to follow the warm weather by Tuesday night.

The weather service said that, combined with the high water levels, the strong winds could increase waves and the risk of downed trees because of the saturated soil.