Freshet update – 2021-04-26

By April 26, 2021No Comments

It’s freshet season again and we know that can make residents feel uneasy.  We are happy to inform residents that based on current conditions, there is little risk of flooding this season. 

The snow season in the Nicola Basin started off aggressively, leading to higher than average snowpack levels through February.  This was balanced by an unseasonably dry March and early April, so coming in to freshet, data indicated that the snowpack in the Nicola Basin was roughly average. 

Though snowpack estimates aren’t perfect, from the snow stations in our area it appears that with the recent warm weather, somewhere between half and two-thirds of Nicola Basin snow has already melted and is moving through the system.  With weather forecasts that project little precipitation over the next 10 days, the risk of freshet flooding is low. 

The gates at the Nicola Lake dam have been wide open since late February, drawing lake levels down to historic lows to allow as much storage capacity as possible and to flow early melt through the City. 

The Nicola River is flowing through Merritt at approximately 15.0 cubic metres / second (cms).  Of this 15cms, 10.5cms is coming through the Nicola Lake dam, and approximately 4.5cms is coming from Clapperton (Mill) Creek. 

The City of Merritt has received notice from the Province that it will make a gate change to reduce flow from the lake starting tomorrow, with the intent of capturing more of the melting snowpack and ensure there is sufficient water to fill the lake. 

Unless there is a drastic change in weather, it is unlikely that Nicola River flows through Merritt will exceed 30cms this season (and even that may not be necessary).  In contrast, peak flows in 2020 were ~57cms. 

We are in close contact with the Provincial dam operator and monitor all river and snow gauges each day, along with weather forecasts.  Should there be any change in conditions that changes the outlook, we will inform residents as soon as possible.  We will also make announcements of any gate changes at the dam as we are informed from the Province. 

For More Information Contact:
Greg Lowis
Director of Corporate Services
City of Merritt
Telephone: (250) 378-8614

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