Water spilled over the banks of the Fraser River along Wardle Street last July.

High river levels predicted in Hope

The district is closely monitoring the flood risk

The District of Hope is preparing for high water levels on the Fraser River this year.

Heavy snow in B.C.’s Interior poses a risk of flooding, but much will depend on the weather patterns in the weeks ahead.

“Be diligent and be aware that the Fraser River could rise above levels we have seen recently,” said fire chief Tom DeSorcy, who is also Hope’s emergency preparedness coordinator.

“We are aware of what’s going on and we are monitoring it, but the river can change at a moment’s notice.”

The district receives regular updates from the River Forecast Centre, and relies on historical and current data to make predictions. DeSorcy said water levels in the Hope area this year could be similar to 2007, which saw the Fraser peak at 9.29 metres. The water level as of press deadline was 6.65 metres.

The entire Fraser River watershed has 29 per cent more snow than normal, as of the latest readings taken by the River Forecast Centre May 1. The upper Fraser and Nechako basins – which supply about a third of the Fraser water that flows through the Lower Mainland — are also running at around 50 per cent above normal.

“There is an elevated flood risk present through the entire length of the mainstem of the Fraser River from the Robson Valley to the Fraser Valley,” according to the centre’s latest bulletin.

Some B.C. communities have already been hit with isolated flooding due to rising local creeks and rivers and forecasters say the risk of seasonal flooding later this spring is “exceptional” in some regions. However, they say the Fraser won’t likely peak in the Lower Mainland until sometime between mid-May and late June or July, depending on the weather.

A lengthy run of hot temperatures, heavy rain or a combination of the two is described as the worst case scenario.

The River Forecast Centre runs computer simulations to generate five-day forecasts of flow the length of the Fraser. Flood warnings are issued if rivers are forecast to approach or reach flood level.

– with files from Jeff Nagel