Okanagan Lake rising

People walk along a pathway at the Cove Resort in West Kelowna on Friday. Okanagan Lake is at 342.459 metres (Full pool is 342.48 metres). Environment Canada is warning that a low-pressure system on its way from Washington state could bring heavy rains Saturday and Sunday. Local governments are advising residents to be on alert for the possibility of flooding this weekend.

Local governments are advising residents to be on alert for the possibility of flooding this weekend.

The warnings come as Environment Canada says heavy rain could be on the way.

The weather forecaster says a low-pressure system coming from Washington state could bring downpours Saturday and Sunday.

"Ahead of the low Saturday afternoon, atmospheric conditions are potentially conducive to strong thunderstorms with frequent lightning and very strong wind gusts," an Environment Canada statement says. "Heavy rain may accompany these storms.

"Widespread rainfall will accompany the low pressure system Saturday night and Sunday, which may strain local rivers."

B.C.'s River Forecast Centre has issued high streamflow advisories for the Vernon, Lumby and Winfield areas and for the Similkameen River and tributaries.

A flood watch is in effect for the Kettle and Granby rivers and tributaries in the Boundary region.

On its webpage, the centre warns that high temperatures this week will be followed by the heavy weekend rains.

"If high rainfall amounts materialize, flood conditions are likely to occur, particularly in areas that already have elevated river levels," the centre says.

The Okanagan Similkameen Emergency Operations Centre is warning "waterways including rivers, creeks and drainages could become hazardous" this weekend.

"As of May 28, 2020, no immediate risks have been identified. The River Forecast Centre has indicated higher than usual water around the Ashnola River and Similkameen River and other small and medium waterways.

"Now is an opportunity for property owners in vulnerable areas, on or near floodplains, or those who have experienced spring flooding in the past, to be ready. In British Columbia, property owners are responsible for taking the necessary steps to assess and protect their property," the EOC said in a news release.

The Central Okanagan EOC said in a release: "Some lakes, like Kalamalka and Ellison, are currently above full pool. While Okanagan Lake is currently below full pool, the combination of warmer weather and rain events may result in Okanagan Lake exceeding full pool, which is not unusual during freshet. Boaters are asked to reduce wake activity close to the shore over the next several weeks and watch for floating debris carried into area lakes from faster flowing tributaries. Residents can monitor lake levels at wateroffice.ec.gc.ca.

"While the risk of widespread flooding remains low, localized flooding is still a possibility as we have experienced recently. Property owners should be prepared.”

On Friday, the City of Kelowna warned of rising waters in Mission Creek. "Property owners who have experienced flooding from Mission Creek in the past are advised to be prepared," said a city news release. "The city will be placing sand, sandbags and pre-filled sandbags at the Cook Road Boat Launch (500 Cook Rd.) for property owners who wish to protect their property."

A state of emergency has been declared in the Boundary region.

"Due to increasing risk of flooding, the BC River Forecast Centre issued a Flood Watch for the Boundary Region including the Kettle River, West Kettle River, Granby River and tributaries. This means that river levels are rising and will approach or may exceed bank-full. Flooding of areas adjacent to affected rivers may occur." the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary said in a news release."

“This freshet has really been unrelenting in the sense that the Kettle River has been close to bank-full for over a month now. This means any spike in temperature or precipitation puts low-lying areas immediately at risk of flooding." said Mark Stephens, EOC director. "In the past 24 hours the forecasts have dropped slightly as we receive more accurate information, but we are still watching for a scenario that could approach or exceed what we saw in 2017 where low-lying properties were flooded and we saw access to some roads cut off."

“We … will start to place equipment to protect core communities and major infrastructure if more accurate flood predictions before the weekend show that needs to happen,” said Stephens.

“Our board has declared this local state of emergency to support the response effort to what may be a very serious flooding event. We ask that everyone in the Boundary pay close attention to any information from the EOC and sign up to receive emergency alerts,” said Diane Langman, chair of Kootenay-Boundary regional district.

West Kelowna is reminding residents that sandbag stations at several locations are well stocked. "Staff will inspect and restock the sandbagging stations as needed by the end of day Friday in advance of hot weather and significant thundershower activity, which Environment Canada is forecasting for the weekend," the city said in a news release.