Watching for warning signs with coming of spring

With the spring melt finally kicking in river flow forecasters are paying close attention to Alberta’s river networks to determine the likelihood of a repeat of last year’s floods. Forecasters with the Alberta government are predicting that sudden warm temperatures combined with a much larger than average amount of snow means we’re going to see a rapid melt across the prairies. The province has issued a runoff advisory from Peace River to south of Calgary in which small water systems are going to be running quite high. Large rivers like the Bow however aren’t expected to swell significantly.

That is the forecast for roughly the next week. Whether we will see flooding later in the year comparable to the 2013 flooding is still up in the air as forecasters gather data on the rate this year’s large snowpack melts and expected rainfall.

The provincial government has expanded its forecasting system as a result of last year’s floods. In the provincial budget tabled last month it contributed over $4 million for flood mitigation studies as well as to install an automatic rainfall intensity alarm system in the Eastern Slopes area. The alarm will alert staff and municipal emergency managers when water levels increase rapidly. The extra funding has created several study projects based on improving the way Alberta scientists predict flood events.