As high snowpack and hot temperatures led to ever higher water on the Fraser River over the past week, the situation could have been much worse.
The freshet, however, is far from over yet but it’s possible communities along the Fraser have “dodged a bullet,” according to the head of the B.C. River Forecast Centre (BCRFC).
By May 23, the Fraser River was at 5.9 metres at the Mission gauge, a level it has hovered around since May 18. Two weeks prior, the BCRFC predicted the river could hit 6.5 metres by the end of last week, something that never happened. The peak was six metres on May 20.
“I think in a lot of ways we did dodge a bit of a bullet on the Fraser in particular,” according to David Campbell, head of the BCRFC.
Some parts of Chilliwack outside the city’s dike system that flood in high water did see flooding this year, but there was no threat to the dikes by Wednesday and the forecast was for more of the same.
Three homes in the Carey Point area were on evacuation order and three others along Ballam Road were on evacuation alert.
|A cement truck where Brinx Road meets the north end of Young Road on the Fraser River side of the dike on May 23, 2018. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)|
Island 22 Regional Park was closed due to flooding. Ballam Road was not flooded but was closed to traffic, and the road was also closed at the top of Young where it meets Brinx Road on the river side of the dike.
The Hope Slough and the Vedder Canal were also backed up to high levels.
Several farm fields experienced ranging levels of water all along the Fraser River in Chilliwack from seepage to full on flooding, although the community has faced much less damage than in the interior.
“The flooding is taking a toll on farming and ranching families,” provincial Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham said in a conference call with media on Tuesday. “It’s been a pretty challenging year this year.”
Campbell said the “extreme” weather over the last month has included average temperatures about 5 C above normal across the province, with some daily records at 10 to 15 C above normal. That with near record levels of snowpack led to this year’s high water.
The key over the next period of time for flooding in the Fraser Valley is whether or not there is rain along with continued warm weather.
“We are very vulnerable to any additional inputs of water at this moment, particularly rainfall,” Campbell said Tuesday. “The next week or two we are quite vulnerable to any additional rainfall and that could cause the Fraser to come up significantly.”
By Wednesday, there was no forecast for rain in Fraser River over the next week.
Executive director of Emergency Management B.C. Chris Duffy said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the forecasts but that EMBC “maintains our readiness posture.”
By Wednesday, the Fraser River was under a BCRFC high streamflow advisory with elevated flows expected.
“With hot weather forecast over the headwater tributaries in the Upper Fraser and Thompson River basins, increased snowmelt runoff may lead to higher flows along the lower Fraser River into the coming weekend,” according to the advisory. “Current modelling is indicating that flows should remain near current levels, however increases above current levels are possible.”