Nelson could see flooding if Kootenay Lake reaches 1754 feet
FortisBC is advising City of Nelson residents that Kootenay Lake levels are expected to reach 1752 feet by the end of May and that depending on weather conditions, levels could reach a height of 1754 feet.
The information, coming after BC Hydro officials said last week they’re not forecasting flooding along the Columbia River system in the Kootenays as they try to manage “unprecedented” runoff, released by Nelson Fire Rescue Monday.
“The City wants to advise residents that if lake levels were to rise to 1754 feet Nelson would experience flooding that would meet or exceed that of 2012,” Nelson Fire Rescue said in a media release.
“That year, lake levels peaked on July 3rd at 1753.87 feet that saw flooding along Lakeside Park and the Sports Fields.”
To make matters worse the release said less than two weeks after the peak was reached in 2012, Nelson experienced a short but extremely intense thunderstorm that produced heavy rainfall that caused flooding along Baker Street and other locations in lower Nelson.
“The flooding was caused by the sudden extraordinary large volume of water running downhill over land, an overwhelmed storm drainage system, and high lake levels that had flowed into the storm drainage system back-filling the lowest pipes leading into the lake.”
FortisBC said current lake levels are predominantly being driven by natural inflows from a heavy snow pack along with precipitation and the natural outflow constriction at Grohman narrows.
“Warm weather with heavy rains pose the greatest chance of elevated lake levels and potential for overland flooding,” FortisBC said.
“It is also important to note that wind can also increase the likelihood of flooding to occur by pushing lake levels higher in some areas.”
Environment Canada forecasts temperatures to be about 5 – 10 degrees above normal until Tuesday evening, after which a cold front will bring increased winds, a risk of thunderstorms, followed by a reduction in temperatures.
“During the warmer weather we can expect creek and river levels to rise and ask that the public be cautious near creek and river banks,” Nelson Fire Rescue said.
“If the winds become strong enough, there are increased risks of falling trees and significant wave action along shores, which may affect low-lying roadways and shorelines.”
City of Nelson Public Works crews have been clearing away debris from creek grates and will continue to conduct creek checks to make sure flows do not become blocked.
Sand and bags are available to residents that may need them to protect their property and to those that have experienced flooding from high creek flows or high lake levels in the past.
To keep up on Kootenay Lake levels click on this website.