December 16th, 2017

River levels expected to peak again Sunday

By Gillian Slade on June 3, 2017.


gslade@medicinehatnews.com 
@MHNGillianSlade

South Saskatchewan River levels are expected to peak Sunday and Monday in this area after the highest flow rate for the Bow River in Calgary in two years.

For Medicine Hat it will probably mean returning to the level experienced last week when the South Saskatchewan was beyond the normal range for this time of year, with a discharge of 600 cubic metres per second, said Colleen Walford, a river forecast engineer with Alberta Environment.

“I’d say between 550 and 600 again,” said Walford. “River levels will be high there for 24 hours as that flow comes through.”

The Calgary Fire Department warned its residents Friday that runoff from melting snow in the mountains was causing very cold water temperatures in the Bow. There was also increased floating debris causing dangerous conditions. Calgarians were urged to exercise caution around river banks, as fast-moving water can cause erosion with the possibility of river banks collapsing.

It is a warning to people who want to enjoy the water, said Walford. Some may be thinking of last year’s river levels at this time of year.

“Last year was not normal,” said Walford. “This year is slightly above normal but it is more normal than last year.”

Mountain snow pack is at the top of the normal range, and how quickly that melts depends on daily temperatures. Walford says increased sunshine at one site resulted in a reduction of 60 millimetres of snow.

“That’s the equivalent of a pretty good rain storm, so we are not surprised to see the rivers respond to that,” said Walford.

Temperatures ideally need to cool down a bit to slow the melt throughout the month of June, said Walford. Forecasted highs for the next five days in the mountains include warm weather Saturday followed by cooler temperatures.

Hatters remember all too well what happened in 2013 two days after a June 21 warning of likely flooding.

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