KIMBERLEY (NEWS1130) – Evacuation alerts have been issued near both Princeton and Kimberley. They are the result of the first major flooding in BC this year. Warm weather and a high snow pack are likely to blame.

Kimberley Mayor Ron McRae says water from two creeks rose rapidly and spilled into a neighbourhood, flooding basements and some living areas.

“We’re looking at roughly eight properties where about 19 or 20 individuals have chosen to leave,” explains McRae. “Certainly we do have some damage.”

Forty homes are under the evacuation alert in the Morrison Subdivision. Crews have sandbagged the area and have been attempting to pump the water out. Water levels have slightly receded and evacuees are currently being housed at the city’s curling club.

Shortly before 5 p.m., another evacuation alert was issued, this time for Tulameen by the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen. The community is located north of Princeton.

Residents are being told to be ready to evacuate due to rising ground water because of the spring thaw.

“Water was actually bubbling up around the paved roads, and there were at least two homes that had two feet of water in them,” says Dale Kronebusch, Supervisor of Emergency Services for the Regional District. “[Otter] Lake has been rising two inches an hour and we’re not sure if that’s going to continue or not.”

He says people from the Lower Mainland own vacation properties in the area, some of which are affected by flood waters. Kronebusch is advising Tulameen residents to head to hotels in Princeton, and check back on their properties during the day.

Dave Campbell with the River Forecast Centre says a surge of warm air recently came through BC’s Southern Interior.

“I’d say it’s a band that extends more or less from the headwaters of the Similkameen, areas around Princeton, over to the Rockies in the east,” Campbell says. “That’s led to fairly high snow pack melt rates through the Southern Interior and the Kootenays, particularly the mid to low level elevation.”

Campbell says the snowpack is high through the northern part of the province too and that could become a concern in the next two months. He notes some of that could flow downstream on the Fraser River but he feels locally, the flood risk is low.

The Fraser Valley Regional District Emergency Management Department says it will take a heat wave up north to change the risk assessment.

“It is going to be a cooler spring melt this year,” believes Lynn Orstad, Program Manager. “The only time we’re going to need to get concerned is if all of a sudden we were to get really hot weather up in the Prince George area of approximately 26 or 27 degrees Celsius for eight days.”

Orstad says just to be safe, they will continue to keep an eye on the weather, snow packs and rainfall.