A Flood Watch has now been issued for the Cariboo Mountains and its tributaries including the Quesnel River and the Horsefly River.
Jonathan Boyd is a Hydrologist with the BC River Forecast Centre.
“The reason is because of a combination of warmer than normal temperatures last week and then additional rainfall. And also the inevitable which is that the snowpack is going to melt in the next month and half. Even cooler than normal temperatures for this time of year are warm enough to melt the snow as the days go by.”
Boyd says the melt is well behind schedule.
“Typically the June 1st bulletin is one that we use to access the progression of the spring snowmelt and it can either be seasonal, earlier than normal melt, or delayed, and this year in particular it’s very obvious that there has been a delay in the snow melt. And the reason is that April and May were relatively cool. We are two to four weeks behind schedule.”
Boyd says the snowpack remains high.
“The Quesnel River is at 182 percent of normal. It was 149 percent of normal on May 15th. The average snowpack for the province on June 1st was at 165 percent of normal, compared to 128 percent of normal two weeks ago.”
He says an intense rainfall event would be the worst case scenario right now.
“It’s that type of event that we’re extremely vulnerable to right now because there is still a lot of snow in the mountains, and the flows are already high. And because the snow is now melting, the temperatures aren’t dropping low enough to stop the melt overnight, you have that combination of rain, the snow melting, plus the rain falling on snow melting which melts it that much faster.”
Boyd says seasonal temperatures with not a lot of rain would be the best case scenario.
He says it wouldn’t surprise him if the Cariboo region remained at fairly high flows for the next few weeks, and if the flood watch went to a flood warning in the next 10 to 12 days.