Although this year was not predicted to have been a major concern for flooding, the persistence of unseasonably warm temperatures across the majority of the province over the past two weeks has led to widespread snowmelt and a brisk start to the spring freshet. In addition, heavy precipitation over the past three days has significantly contributed to a rapid increase in the river level of the Fraser River.
Flood warnings will be given for the unprotected areas (areas that are on the river side of the dyking system) of Matsqui Prairie and Glen Valley. A flood warning is an advisement to residents that river levels have risen to fill the rivers natural banks or will exceed the riverbank imminently, and that limited flooding of unprotected areas may occur.
While still below levels of concern, flows on the Fraser River from the headwaters to the Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland, are expected to peak overnight and conditions are expected to stabilize with river levels dropping tomorrow and through the rest of the week.
Snow pack plays an important role in seasonal flood risk by providing a plentiful source of water available for melt and runoff. However, whether or not flooding occurs depends on the weather conditions during the snow melt season, and flooding cannot be forecast as a result of snow pack levels alone. The greatest risk for flooding results from above normal snow packs combined with well above normal temperatures and/or heavy rainfall during the snow melt season. Given the necessary adverse weather conditions, flooding can occur in years with or without high snow pack.
Preparation is currently underway for the spring freshet. The City’s Emergency Flood Planning Committee is holding regular meetings to review flood response plans, emergency routes and resource coordination.
The following are key points for keeping you informed about flood preparations:
• The City Emergency Program receives daily updates from Emergency Management BC regarding weather conditions and river level predictions.
• Based on the current river levels, the City’s Engineering Department is inspecting the Matsqui dykes on a daily basis and the Vedder Dyke three times a week.
• The City of Abbotsford has an extensive dyking network to protect the community from floods on the Fraser and Sumas River systems.
• In 2007 the City and the Provincial government collaborated together and provided funding to re-fortify and raise the height of the dykes to projected flood levels.
• Detailed flood information and tips on how to be personally prepared is posted on the City’s website at www.abbotsford.ca. Residents are encouraged to check the website often as information is updated daily.