It is a classic flood scenario, high rivers with lots of snow in the mountains getting drenched with warm rain. The river banks are breeching today. And the water hasn’t yet arrived. In 8 to ten hours we could see water levels far higher than seen in 2007. Will we be spared? Will we take this opportunity to be prepared? We have little time to make a decision.
Driving through Terrace today we discovered river levels right on the edge. Some people were taking advantage of the Regional District sand and bag delivery promotion and others were emptying out their basements which were collecting ground water. Many were worried and driving around looking at the water levels.
We did the same but also checked the monitoring stations in the high “Outback”. This is clearly a time to be worried in our opinion. Earlier this month, after the normal high flows, first two weeks of June, we felt the threat had passed as the weather was projected to be cool. Not now. The dramatic heat of Saturday and the subsequent rain has provided the conditions for the perfect storm.
The graphs provided by Environment Canada and the BC Ministry of the Environment indicate an interesting projection. Measuring the remaining snow pack and the rising levels in the rivers far upstream in the Skeena River demonstrate the river levels in Terrace will rise substantially during the next two days at least. We would not be surprised to see levels exceeding the 2007 flood.
The graphs made available a short time ago reveal the Skeena River, above the confluence of the Babine River, producing a greater volume of water that will reach Terrace in a few hours.
As this occurs the Kalum River will back up. This area of residential and farm land along the east shore of the Kalum River just north of Terrace is only a few metres higher than the Skeena River. Property owner James Wold has measured it as approximately five metres. At present the Skeena has risen numerous metres since the flood waters began bringing the backup of flow to more than flood levels in the area of Dutch Valley.
At 9:00 pm this evening, June 24, the Kalum had flooded the entire farm land north of Wolds’s property and covered his driveway with, Wold estimates, a depth of six inches. We were present taking pictures at 1 pm and the level, though rising, was at least a foot below the driveway. This would indicate a rate of rise at one and a half metres in a 24 hour period. If it is the same for the Skeena, (look at the graphs), by Tuesday the landscape around Terrace may have changed dramatically.
Both the Kalum River and the Skeena River are susceptible to much higher flows over the next 24 to 48 hours and it is our duty to provide the citizens with fair and proper warning. We would hope we are wrong and are critiqued in the next few weeks for issuing a false prediction. We fear however this is a serious concern for everyone to take heed.
Look at and interpret the following graphs on your own.
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As of 6:40 pm Sunday they write:June 24 - 6:40 p.m. Although still rising slightly, the rate of increase of the water level on the Skeena River has slowed considerably this afternoon. The water level was measured at 11.281 metres at the Usk Station as of 3:00 p.m. and 11.282 metres at 4:00 p.m. today.
Three river level monitoring stations. Note points demonstrating time spans between resulting height changes. In eight to twelve hours Terrace might experience a sudden flow/height increase
Note the snow pack affecting the Skeena. The levels are still significant and are dropping now yet more remains.
Full size trees and roots float down the Skeena River.