Early spring runoff expected

After an unseasonably short winter,alarm bells for some about the possibility of floods from an early spring thaw.

After an unseasonably short winter, warmer and drier weather could envelope the Columbia Valley this spring, which has raised alarm bells for some about the possibility of floods from an early spring thaw.

AccuWeather Global Weather Centre recently reported the whole of Canada will likely be seeing an early start to summer as an El Nino (above-normal ocean water temperatures) brings warmer-than-usual springtime weather to the central and eastern Pacific.

The changing climate has already encouraged preventative measures to prepare for the possibility of flooding in the Columbia Valley.

“While we don’t know when and to what degree any flooding will look like, the Regional District East Kootenay (RDEK) has a detailed emergency plan, which has worked well in the past and will be activated if the need arises,” said Wendy Booth, RDEK Area F director, while adding that a flood mitigation project valued at approximately $500,000 was completed on Fairmont Creek last year, which has flooded in years past.

“The creek was widened to allow for more room in the creek bed for water flow. In addition, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has been working with the community on the drainage ditches and culverts.”

In previous years, there has also been flooding reported at the Toby Creek Bridge in Wilmer.

“As far as runoff near the Wilmer bridge, we’re not really taking any steps moving forward,” said Chris Prosser, chief administrative officer for the District of Invermere. “We’re just watching it… we’ve got riprap against the bridge that has been deflecting the water at that time of year.”

However, Prossor explained the bridge was ultimately under the Ministry of Transportation’s umbrella.