As the spring freshet continues, the lower Fraser River has been upgraded to a high streamflow advisory.
The advisory was issued just before noon on June 8 for the Fraser River from Quesnel downstream to Big Bar, Boston Bar and Hope to the ocean. Along with that advisory comes a reminder warning to stay away from fast-flowing rivers and riverbanks in the weeks to come.
The advisory is due to rising snowmelt rates, which is being exacerbated by rising snow melt rates and wet weather across the Interior region.
“Flows in headwater tributaries is expected to work its way into the lower Fraser River at Hope and downstream over the next two to three days,” according to the B.C. River Forecast Centre advisory. “Moderate rainfall is forecast for Thursday, which is expected to increase local inflow from local tributaries along the lower Fraser River.”
Current flow (Wednesday) on the Fraser River at Hope is 8400 cubic metres per second and rising. Flows are expected to reach 9000 cubic metres per second by Friday.
The District of Hope closed the Rotary Trail until further notice on Wednesday “out of an abundance of caution and in the interest of public safety.”
The Rotary Trail runs along the Coquihalla River which empties into the Fraser River.
“Residents are reminded that while we experience the annual freshet on the Fraser River that high water levels and velocities are expected in the coming days and weeks.”
The District of Hope works with Emergency Management BC and the BC River Forecast Centre to monitor the situation each year.
The Fraser River at Mission was at 4.8 m at the same time on Wednesday, and forecast to rise above 5.0 m by Saturday.
With significant mountain snowpack remaining in the Fraser River headwaters, flow may remain elevated for an extended period over the next one to two weeks, or even longer, they said.
During this period, the Fraser River will remain vulnerable to extreme weather events, in particular heavy rainfall or extreme heat.
River forecasters look at long-range weather forecasts to help predict flooding risks, and they are seeing unsettled weather patterns with rain in the Interior. That is expected to continue for some time.
The current flow forecasts for the Fraser River are available from the CLEVER model and WARNS model, with water level forecasts available for locations along the lower Fraser River from Hope to the ocean.
“The public is advised to stay clear of the fast-flowing rivers and potentially unstable riverbanks during the high-streamflow period,” the ministry said. “Be prepared and know your hazards.”
The River Forecast Centre continues to monitor the conditions and will provide updates as conditions warrant.
Earlier this week, the Fraser Valley Regional District announced staff are keeping close watch of low-lying areas along the Fraser River that are prone to flooding, including Laidlaw.
In a statement on June 6, they noted that “water levels in the Fraser River continue to rise.”
They advised residents and occupants of undiked lands in the areas of Dewdney, Nicomen Island, Malcolm Road (near Lake Errock), and St. Elmo Road (Laidlaw) to monitor river levels closely and be prepared for potential flooding.
There was no notice yet for residents near the Coquihalla or the Fraser River in Hope.
“The FVRD cautions residents living in floodplain areas, especially those not protected by dikes, to monitor water levels and keep away from river edges and shorelines,” their statement said. “During periods of high flow, river banks may be unstable and more prone to sudden collapse. Stay well away and keep young children and pets away from the banks of fast-flowing streams and flooded areas or bridges.”
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