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B.C.'s high temperatures and forecasted rainfall cause more flooding concerns

Record-breaking high temperatures across the province have led to the significant melt of mid-elevation snowpacks

The early-season heat and the rain in the forecast are causing serious flooding concerns across the province, while some areas of the Interior have been feeling the impacts for several days.

In a press conference Thursday morning, Dave Campbell, head of the River Forecast Centre, said the past week of record-breaking high temperatures across the province has led to the significant melt of mid-elevation snowpacks, which has resulted in flooding in Cache Creek and in the Parker's Cove area off Westside Road.

With moderate to heavy rain forecast in some areas of the Interior through the weekend, the already surging waterways in the Interior could be at risk of flooding their banks.

“The conditions have been very rapid in terms of the onset, the temperatures we're seeing right now have been pushing up into record territory for the past seven days or so. So it's very unusual to see that rapid melt this early in the season,” Campbell said.

“It's not a typical freshet so far, I would say, but it's hard to put it into context as it's still early in the season ... really continuing to monitor the weather is going to be important, and that's really going to determine how significant overall this year is compared to previous ones.”

The entire Okanagan region is currently under a flood watch, according to the River Forecast Centre, while the Boundary and Thompson regions are under a more severe flood warning.

Campbell said waterways that are fed from mid-elevation snowpacks, like Cache Creek and some areas of the Okanagan, are expected to have hit peak snowmelt by next week.

“We'll start to shift some of those areas to be more concerned about rainfall ... We're melting through fairly quickly, so by next week, a lot of those areas will start to become snow-free,” he said.

“Where the season still has yet to come is the higher elevations – particularly the high mountains, the Interior ranges, the Kootenays, the large rivers feeding the Fraser River, the Thompson River – those will take some more time. The peak is likely going to take at least a couple weeks ... extended into June. The weather over the next few weeks is going to determine that, we're not near the peak yet on those.

“We're starting to melt snow in the higher elevations, and this is really what will be determining the risk as we go through the freshet season into the later parts of May and into June from the high elevation into the bigger rivers.”

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