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B.C. municipality declares state of local emergency following “very heavy rainfall event”


June 16, 2016   by Canadian Underwriter


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The mayor of the District of Chetwynd in northeastern British Columbia declared a state of local emergency on Wednesday following a “very heavy rainfall event.”

Seventy-nine millimetres of rain fell in Chetwynd as of noon Wednesday. Photo: @Q99liveFM.

A media release from the municipality said that according to Environment Canada, 79 millimetres of rain fell in Chetwynd as of noon Wednesday. A further 30-50 millimetres of rain was expected within the next 24 hours.

“We all need to take measures to ensure our families, structures and livestock are safe at this time,” Mayor Merlin Nichols said in the release. “Sandbags are available outside the Chetwynd Public Works yar compound for those who need them.”

At 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, the River Forecast Centre (RFC) of B.C.’s Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations issued a flood watch for the Peace Region, upgrading a previous high streamflow advisory. The Peace Region includes streams near Chetwynd, Pine Pass, Tumbler Ridge, Dawson Creek and Fort St. John. The RFC also issued a flood watch for Northeast B.C., including streams near Fort Nelson.

A flood watch means that “river levels are rising and will approach or may exceed bankfull. Flooding of areas adjacent to affected rivers may occur.”

According to an advisory from the RFC, rainfall from an “Alberta Low” has caused rapid increases in water levels in streams overnight. “Water levels in smaller streams at higher elevation have risen rapidly today and are forecast to continue rising through Thursday in the Peace region with flooding in low-lying areas,” the advisory said. “Water levels in major streams in the region are expected to continue to rise through Friday and possibly Saturday.”

Based on current precipitation forecasts and streamflow conditions, flood forecast modelling indicates flooding is likely along the following streams and their smaller tributaries by Thursday and into Friday:

  • Moberly River is forecast to reach flows between 100 and 120 cubic metres per second (m3/s) by Thursday and peak early Friday morning. Peak flows may exceed the 10-year return period flow. Flows will begin to recede by late Friday;
  • Kiskatinaw River is forecast to reach flows between 300 and 430 m3/s by Thursday and peak early Friday morning. Peak flows may exceed the 10-year return period flow. Flows will begin to recede by late Friday; and
  • Fontas River is forecast to reach flows between 400 to 570 m3/s by Friday and peak by Saturday morning. Peak flows may approach the 20-year return period flow event. Flows will begin to recede by late Saturday.