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April snow could bring May floods

Slow melt helps as local muncipalites working to reduce rising water concerns.
Geese take off from the patch of green they found at Smithers Golf & Country Club (Chris Gareau photo)

While it may seem like there is still a lot of snow on the ground for this time of the year, it isn’t quite a record breaking amount.

Environment Canada meteorologist Dave Ray said last week there was 35 cm recorded at the Smithers Airport.

“If you go into more remote areas it is likely to be more than that,” he said. “In terms of snow on ground measurements for April 4, this is the third highest [in recorded history]. The most was 41 cm in 1974, the second most was 38 cm in 1976.”

Local municipalities are hoping for a slow melt this spring.

“Town crews spent a great deal of time hauling snow between snow falls this winter which helped with widening streets but also exposed all the storm drain catch basins,” said Town of Smithers director of works and operations Roger Smith.

“Other than a couple frozen catch basins needing thawing, the thaw hasn’t created much issue to date. A long as the spring thaw continues gradually, there likely won’t be concern.”

According to Mayor Darcy Repen, the Village of Telkwa is not necessarily anticipating problems either.

“The ground is not frozen, so the melt seems to be dissipating well. This is very different than last year, where the ground frost had caused issues with our ditches and storm drains, causing localized flooding,” he said.

“Additionally, while snow accumulations in the valley have been record breaking, the mountain snowpack levels are actually in the average range.”

Repen added the Village has completed the repairs to the dike on the Telkwa river, and will be completing additional floodplain assessment work throughout the spring and summer.

The floodplain assessment work is being funded 100 per cent through a federal grant and they anticipate an 80 per cent rebate from Emergency Management B.C. for the work done on the dike.

However, one local resident said there could be some concern for flooding. Bruce McGonigal, a retired employee of the Ministry of Environment, said freshet 2018 has a lovely ripe snow pack to make things interesting.

“You may have noticed spring is officially here but it is not,” he said. “When does spring show up and how hot is it going to get in the next eight or nine weeks? My prediction for freshet is for high water in the perched aquifer below our homes and high water in low and high elevation watersheds.

I predict high water in rivers will not be record high but, nonetheless, high.

My prediction for Smithers residents … some basements/crawl spaces will get wet but this will be nothing more than a first world issue.”

He recommends people keep an eye on their crawl spaces, basements, and ensure sump pumps are working. He also suggested keeping items of value elevated.

The April snow bulletin, which measures the snowpack in the mountains, was not available by press time.

Signs of spring in March 2016 lead assistant superintendent Brian Hutchinson and superintendent Steve Kerbrat to prepare the Smithers Golf & Country Club for an April start to the season. (Xuyun Zeng photo)
Elks Park in Smithers still covered in snow on April 12. (Chris Gareau photo)

Marisca Bakker

About the Author: Marisca Bakker

Marisca was born and raised in Ontario and moved to Smithers almost ten years ago on a one-year contract.
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