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Fraser River water levels rise, southeastern B.C. awaits thundershowers

Last Updated May 17, 2018 at 9:07 am PDT

Water levels on the Fraser River in Langley on May 17, 2018 (Bruce Claggett, NEWS 1130 Photo)

Local hazelnut farmer confident systems put in since 2012 flooding will protect trees this time around

Special weather statements for southeastern BC, water levels could rise on already ravaged rivers

LOWER MAINLAND (NEWS 1130) – With water levels rising along the Fraser River, local farmers are watching closely. The memories of 2012 still linger for those managing hazelnut orchards.

When that flooding hit six years ago, there were a number of tree varieties that were wiped out altogether locally. But farmer Helmut Hooge is confident the systems put in place since then will protect his trees this time around.

“Our dike system is fairly good now,” says Hooge. “I think it would take a lot higher water or Fraser River levels than we are seeing right now [for problems to happen].”

Barnston Island between Surrey and Pitt Meadows is on evacuation alert, as are hundreds of properties in Langley Township. Three homes in Chilliwack are under evacuation orders.

Meanwhile Environment Canada has issued special weather statements covering the entire southeastern corner of the province.

NEWS 1130 meteorologist Russ Lacate tells us what could be ahead for the area around Grand Forks:

“A temporary lull will develop early on today, and again Friday morning,” says Lacate. “But each afternoon into the evening, dramatic cloud buildups over the ridges are expected, resulting in potentially severe thunderstorms, although these storms may be quite localized.”

“Keep in mind, that with potential downpour rates of 20 millimetres per hour or more, is the kind of heavy rainfall that could create a sudden surge in the rising streamflow levels of the already stressed Kettle Valley, the Similkameen and the Okanagan watersheds,” he adds.

On May 16, 2018, high water eats away at Highway 3 near the Lost Creek Rest Area, south of Salmo.

The Kootenay Boundary Regional District’s latest numbers indicate that 1700 cubic metres per second flowed through the Kettle River watershed yesterday, or the equivalent of four 25-metre swimming pools per second.