Fraser River levels expected to hit 40-year high this week
Peaking snowmelt, high rainfall, and generally wet weather will impact the Fraser River this week, the head of B.C. River Forecast Centre has predicted.
According to David Campbell, river levels will first peak in the Prince George area.
“So for tomorrow [June 19] mid-afternoon we’re probably expecting to see the peak there [Prince George area],” Campbell told the Straight by phone from his Victoria office. “It takes about two-and-a-half days for that water to make its way down to the Lower Mainland. So we’ll be tracking it as it goes down. And at this point, we’re getting into similar terrain in potential flow levels down to the Lower Fraser, something that we haven’t seen for 40 years down there as well. So we’re certainly keeping an eye on that and trying to refine our forecasts as best we can.”
Campbell explained that “we really hit the peak of the snowmelt season”, meaning there has been “pretty rapid melt” over the last week to 10 days.
“So that’s been really driving flows up,” he said. “On top of that we’ve seen a couple of pretty significant rainfall events, the first one about a week-and-a-half ago, and this most recent one over the weekend. So we’re seeing the water from the weekend up in the upper headwaters working its way down. We are expecting that to start causing some rises towards the middle of this week and hitting peak levels along the Lower Fraser, the Fraser Valley probably on Friday.”
Not only was spring 2012 cooler than past years, but the snowpacks have been “exceptionally high”, he added.
“Right at the time when the most melt is happening we’re also getting this huge amount of extra rainfall,” Campbell said. “I haven’t done the stats, but we’re certainly well above average for this time. Normally in June I don’t know how much, but certainly well above average.”