Severe flooding in Hope isn’t expected now that water levels in the Fraser River are starting to subside.
While they are currently above average for this time of year, the B.C. River Forecast Centre predicts the flood risk will continue to drop.
“I don’t think we’re going to see anything catastrophic at this point, but there are localized areas impacted with this flow,” said centre spokesperson David Campbell. “The La Nina has broken down now, but the effects of it seem to be lingering a little longer.”
Records show the Fraser River hasn’t peaked this late since 1920. It typically occurs by the middle of June, but a cool spring has prolonged the snowmelt this year. In addition, recent heavy rainfall in the upper Fraser and North Thompson watersheds has caused the river levels to spike.
“It’s definitely unusual. It’s really rare to see these kind of flows this late in the year,” said Campbell. “The high stream flow issues we’re seeing are really heavy rain that’s piggybacking onto that snowmelt base flow. So it’s a little higher than it would normally be at this time of year, regardless of the rain coming through.”
Last week, the river surged past Hope at 10,120 cubic metres per second as water levels rose to 8.9 metres. Flooding has remained in low-lying areas like Wardle Street and the Hope Golf Course. Three of the course’s nine holes have been submerged for most of the last two months, where water levels are about 2.5 feet higher than the green.
“There will definitely be some areas where the grass has died as a result of being under water for so long,” said operator Kerry Krahn. “We’re going to have to get that all growing again and cart paths will have to be fixed.”
Krahn and his wife took over management of the day-to-day operations of the course in March and became owner-operators of the banquet room catering, pro shop and lounge.
The wet weather and flooding has caused a 52 per cent drop in green fees from last year at this time. With a third of the course closed, Krahn has been forced to offer discounted golf rates. He admits the financial strain has been a bit overwhelming.
“The biggest hurdle is that word has spread that the course has had damage or water on it. So as a result, a lot of people are just staying away,” said Krahn. “All we need is nice weather now. The course dries up really quickly.”
Flooding along the Fraser River is not uncommon in this area.
In 2007, water levels reached 9.3 m and flowed past Hope at 10,800 cubic metres per second. Flooding evacuation alerts were handed out to 66 homes in the district and river levels forced the closure of Corbett’s Landing at the end of Rupert Street, as well as Wardle Street.
In 1999, water levels peaked at 9.45 m as the river surged at 11,000 cubic metres per second. Water spilled into ditches along Highway 1, and covered Rotary Trails and the golf course.
The Fraser gauge in Hope hit 10.14 m in June 1972 with a water flow of 12,900 cubic metres. That’s the closest the river has come to the levels seen during the big flood of 1948. That year, a heavy rainfall pushed water levels to 10.97 m as the river surged past Hope at 15,200 cubic metres.