FLOOD WATCH: Drying trend to begin, but river will still rise
After another wet weekend, the Kamloops area should start drying out over the next week.
However, the The Kamloops Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) has escalated to Level 2 stage, based on rising river levels.
The North Thompson is expected to peak today (June 26), while the South Thompson should peak on Wednesday, June 27, or Thursday, June 28.
The projections are for levels at or slightly above those experienced in 1999.
After a weekend that saw up to 25 millimetres of rain fall on some neighbourhoods in the Tournament Capital, Environment Canada meteorologist Jim Steele said the worst of the wet is likely past.
“The upper low-pressure system that was off the Washington coast that has plagued the area for the last several days with these bands of heavy storms and thunder showers is starting to weaken,” he said.
As the system moves inland through Washington state and Oregon, thunderstorms and heavy rains will continue in the east Kootenays and near the U.S. border.
But, the Southern Interior should expect only light precipitation.
That drier forecast should help bring down the waters in the Thompson rivers.
The North and South Thompson rivers are on the rise after the weekend rains. A combination of snowmelt and storms have the North Thompson back on flood watch, while the BC River Forecast Centre has issued a more severe flood warning for the South Thompson.
David Campbell, head of the forecast centre, said the rivers are expected to rise for another two to three days, as the excess water from smaller waterways works its way through the Thompson system.
By the time the rivers peak, the forecast centre predicts waters under Overland Bridge will have risen another 60 centimetres, bringing the flooding in line with levels last seen in 1999.
But, as long as the rain lets up, Campbell said the rivers will start to go down by the end of the week.
“We can really see in these gaps between the heavy rain that they’re trying to drop,” he said. “The inflows into Shuswap lake have been declining. It’s this wet weather that we’ve been having that’s been pushing things for the last week or two.”
While a period of extreme heat could trigger an excessive snowmelt, Campbell said it’s unlikely that will lead to another round of flooding.
“We’re looking good once we can get through that wet weather.”
For flood-prone communities in the Interior, Steele said the weakening pressure system “is a good thing. It’s the best news in the world.
“As it weakens and drifts, we’re not done yet. But, it doesn’t look like it’s got as much punch.”
Steele said a period of drier, warmer weather will begin on Wednesday, June 27, though it could be cut short by another light rain on Friday, June 29.
“It’s a slow process,” he said.
“When you get this wet, it’s tough to turn it off.”
And wet it has been.
While no records have been broken, June 2012 is now one of the five wettest Junes on record, with 68.8 millimetres of rain falling at the Kamloops Airport so far. Heavier rains were recorded in June of 1980 (69 millimetres), 1999 (73.4 millimetres), 1953 (78.7 millimetres) and 2005 (86.2 millimetres).
Normally, the airport gets 35.2 millimetres of rain in June.
Based on the Level 2 stage, the city’s EOC is deploying flood-protection gabion baskets in low-lying areas along Schubert Drive and addressing other areas in North Kamloops.
Sand and sandbags are available at Fire halls No.1 through No. 6. Residents can call 250-828-3461 for flooding information or to request sandbags and sand.