Photo: The Canadian Press
BC Transport and Infrastructure Minister Rob Fleming considers flood and mudslides repair and cleanup progress on the Coquihalla Highway northeast of Hope, BC, Friday, December 10, 2021. Emergency services say as many as 20 buildings are under water in three northwestern British Columbia communities , but a break in the weather has slowed rising watercourses in the region and evacuation orders will be updated.
The River Forecast Center is warning residents of northeastern British Columbia that the Liard River could rise to extremely high currents, causing flooding similar to last year.
The forecast center improved the river’s condition on Tuesday to issue a flood warning for the area that includes tributaries around Fort Nelson and Highway 97 toward Watson Lake.
A flood warning is the most severe in a three-level warning system used by the forecast center and means flooding is expected.
Flood watches remain in place around the Skeena and Bulkley rivers, while high-current advisories cover the central interior and northwestern part of the county.
The forecast center says flows on the Liard River could exceed 50-year return levels later this week or early next week.
The Thompson-Nicola Regional District in British Columbia’s southern interior also advised residents on Tuesday to prepare for rising waters after cool weather delayed snowmelt for many weeks.
Kevin Skrepnek, the district’s emergency program coordinator, says snow cover remains “extremely high” in certain areas, increasing flood risk, especially on the North and South Thompson Rivers.
He says smaller tributaries in the same area could also be hit by possible heavy rainfall, and regions damaged last year by atmospheric flooding or wildfires are particularly vulnerable.
The district has used sand and sandbags in several places in the area where flooding is expected.
Evacuation warnings have been posted by the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District for 18 properties along a stretch of the Tulameen River as the weather-delayed spring fresh continues.
In northwestern BC, as many as 20 buildings in three communities are under water, according to emergency services.
But a break in the weather has slowed rising watercourses in the region.
The Kitimat-Stikine Regional District ordered the evacuation of the Terrace communities of Old Remo, New Remo and Usk on Sunday.
It also declared a local state of emergency when the Skeena River flooded low-lying areas, cutting off access to the villages.
About 300 people have been affected, and regional district officials say the river must give way enough to ensure safe passage before residents are allowed to return.
The City of Terrace has said the flood risk is decreasing and the risk to the city and surrounding communities is now very low, although Environment Canada predicts more rain until next week.
The forecasting center keeps a flood watch for the Dean River east of Bella Coola.
Rain could cause the Skeena and Bulkley rivers to swell further, but the modeling does not suggest significant increases, the forecasting center says.
High flow advisories cover many other streams and rivers in northwestern BC and the central interior south of the United States border.