The Fraser River at Chilliwack on May 10, 2018. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Fraser Valley in wait-and-see mode for flood risk from freshet

River Forecast Centre predicts “bank full conditions” by next week

While the combination of high snowpack, warm weather and a heavy rainfall has led to a worst-case flooding scenario in the B.C. interior, the Lower Mainland is left waiting to see just how high the Fraser River will get.

And the head of the B.C. River Forecast Centre said Friday recent extreme weather has driven rivers up “much, much earlier than normal.”

David Campbell said while the hot weather with rain increases the risks, temperature alone is a concern.

“Hot is in and of itself concerning over the next seven days as water is rising throughout the region making its way down into the Fraser River system, which rises fairly rapidly from headwater down to the Lower Mainland,” Campbell said in a conference call Friday.

Campbell said the Mission gauge – the measure used by most communities to monitor river levels – was at five metres on Friday. The 5.5-metre mark signals “bank full conditions,” and Campbell said that should be surpassed by the long weekend, pushing to the six- to 6.5-metre range by late next week.

By Friday, the river at Hope was running at about 9,000 cubic metres per second (m3/s), a rate that should surpass 10,000 m3/s by the weekend and hit 12,000 m3/s by the end of next week.

The provincial government said Thursday it is encouraging local governments and First Nations communities along the lower Fraser River to prepare for potential flooding,

“The lower Fraser has not seen this combination of weather conditions – including high temperatures, snow melt and riverflow – for a number of years,” according to the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General.

An evacuation alert was issued by the City of Chilliwack on Wednesday for six properties at Carey Point, an area outside the city’s dike system.

• READ MORE: City of Chilliwack issues evacuation alert to properties outside dike

The City said the move was precautionary, noting that conditions can change rapidly during the spring freshet. Residents in the alert area are being contacted by city officials.

The City is recommending they be prepared to leave the area on short notice, and director of engineering David Blain said Friday the residents have been provided with sandbags.

As some communities, such as Grand Forks, are experiencing extreme flooding, some people have evoked the massive flood of 1948, which devastated Chilliwack.

Blain said, however, that not only is that level of water not forecast to come down the Fraser, but the city’s diking infrastructure has greatly improved in the 70 years since then.

While even record flows should not affect the city, it’s the areas outside the dike system that are at most risk. Even there, most of the homes should be high enough, according to Blain. Carey Point is certainly at risk, but the 20-or-so homes north of Minter Country Garden on the west side of Young Road have remained unaffected even at the highest water levels in the last 50 years.

Blain said those homes are built high enough that they were unaffected in 2012, and even when the Mission gauge hit seven metres in 1972, those homes remained dry.

The river level is a dynamic situation with many factors playing into it. Continue to visit www.theprogress.com for updates on the water levels on the Fraser River.

• READ MORE: Chilliwack residents outside the dike told to be ready to evacuate (June 2012)


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

27 years of supporting victims and survivors of crime and trauma

Marianne Brueckert with Victim Services says it is a gift to work with survivors of crime, tragedy

Hope Search and Rescue assist in flood response

Evacuation alerts and river monitoring carried out by HSAR together with the District of Hope

Chilliwack prolific offender a no-show for sentencing hearing

Warrant issued on May 17 for Jeffrey Michael Kizmann wanted for robbery

Province has been missing in action on flood protection, experts say

Political will to improve dikes lacking, says B.C.’s former flood safety chief

Black Press Media to launch Pipeline Full of Controversy series

Series covers Trans Mountain’s history, science, Indigenous reaction, politics and economics

B.C. RCMP swoop in to save injured eagle

An eagle with a broken wing now in a recovery facility after RCMP rescue near Bella Coola

Bug spray 101: Health Canada wants you to stay bite free

Health Canada is reminding Canadians to use bug spray and other insect repellents safely

Unions reject CP Rail contract offers

Both meeting Friday to determine next steps; 72 hours notice required before strike action.

B.C. jewellers warn public about fake gold scam

‘They are playing on people’s sympathy and their greed’

Former B.C. premier says pot industry about to enter Wild West

Mike Harcourt says Canada is about to enter a new gold rush with many dreaming of striking it rich

Hunt continues for two suspects in Ontario restaurant explosion

The explosion left 15 people injured, but all victims have now been released from hospital

UPDATE: RCMP on scene to remove homeless housing protesters

Residents blocking the installation of modular housing in Maple Ridge

Toronto Raptors star to hold basketball camp in B.C.

DeMar DeRozan is hosting a four-day camp for players aged 6-16 at the University of Victoria

Most Read