Christmas Island looks more like Christmas trees as high water continues to affect the Salmon Arm foreshore. - Image credit: Jim Elliot/Salmon Arm Observer

Flood threat may be receding

High water situation depends on how much rain falls later this week

Cautiously optimistic.

That is how David Campbell, head of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations’ River Forecast Centre, describes freshet in the Shuswap.

He says a steady decline in the level of Shuswap Lake and streamflow in the South Thompson River indicate levels may have peaked for this year.

On Tuesday, Campbell said the river had peaked at 349.02 metres, “a nudge below 2012 levels,”

With streamflow down on local rivers and tributaries, Campbell says snow melt is no longer an issue.

Park Mountain that feeds Shuswap River is still 115 per cent of normal, but with all mid-elevation snow now melted, Campbell says there isn’t enough snow to have any effect on freshet.

A snow pillow northeast of Enderby is down by one-third and the Celista gauge indicates 75 per cent of the snow has come down.

He says this year’s freshet was unlike 2012 when there was significant flooding in the Shuswap. This year, three periods of high temperatures in May melted most of the mid-elevation snow with the peak taking place about a week earlier than normal.

In 2012, mid and high-elevation snow melted during the same period, accompanied by very heavy rains.

Rain is the contributing factor in Campbell’s cautious optimism.

The forecast for the Shuswap over the next few days does include rain. But rather than a large and well-organized low-pressure system, Environment Canada meteorologist Alyssa Charbonneau says scattered showers with a few sunny breaks will more likely be the scenario.

“It’s a bit of wait and see,” she said Tuesday. “It’s hard to say where the heavy showers will be, but we’re not really seeing any major rain.”

Temperatures are slightly below seasonal but on Tuesday, Charbonneau was saying it’s looking like Sunday and Monday could see sun and highs of 26C and 27C.Also from that far-out vantage point, it was looking like next week could be more like summer.

In the meantime, Canoe Beach remains closed and Pierre’s Point Campground owners Lars and Barb Tegtmeyer have advised campers that as of June 11, all of their beachfront sites as well as some other sites, are not usable.

“Even if the waters decide to recede, and the soil dries out, we are expecting a massive amount of clean up and erosion to those sites,” notes a Facebook post. “We are advising our guests well in advance of changes in reserved sites, or possible cancellations, especially for bookings in late June or early July.”

Beach Park in Sicamous is also closed but Mayor Terry Rysz is optimistic the lake has peaked, is looking forward to watching the water recede and is adamant that Sicamous is open for business.

If the rain does cause more flooding, Rysz says the district is ready.

“We have also been holding our fingers crossed in terms of moving ahead with protection,” he says. “We do have sandbags and an aqua dam on loan from the province to place along the channel wall if necessary, but we don’t want to interfere with businesses along the channel unless we have to.”

Rysz says the district has been proactive in monitoring and reacting to the flood situation, by capping drains, checking culverts and flying overhead to check out snowpack in surrounding mountains.

“Our staff has been absolutely amazing in monitoring and communicating with everyone who might be affected,” he says, paying tribute to operations manager Joe McCullough and staff as well as fire chief Brett Ogino.

“Everybody (residents) has been absolutely excellent; they’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do.”

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