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High streamflow advisories issued in Prince George

Melting snow has prompted high streamflow advisories for the Nechako and Fraser rivers.

The BC River Forecast Centre has issued high streamflow advisories for the Nechako and Fraser rivers in the Prince George area.

Warmer temperatures in northern B.C. this weekend and next week are expected to accelerate snow melt in the upper elevations, and “may bring a prolonged period of higher flows this weekend and next week,” the high streamflow advisory said.

“Flows have remained elevated over the past week due to on-going snowmelt and runoff from precipitation. Rainfall over the past two days in the headwaters is leading to rising river levels throughout the tributaries in the Upper Fraser, with 10-25 mm of precipitation being observed in most areas,” the advisory says. “Areas of high flows include the Bowron River, McGregor River and Fraser River around McBride, Hansard, Shelley and through Prince George to South Fort George.”

Water levels on the Nechako and Fraser rivers may reach once-in-five-years flood levels, the advisories warned. Further south, a flood warning has been issued along the Quesnel River at Quesnel.

Information released by the BC River Forecast Centre on June 15 reported that the snowpack in the Upper Fraser basin upstream of Prince George was 261 per cent of normal for mid-June. Snow levels for the Fraser River basin as a whole were nearly double the seasonal average.

During a media briefing on Friday, Environment and Climate Change Canada metrologist Armel Castellan said warm weather is coming for northern B.C.

“We expect the north half of B.C. to stay warm throughout the month,” Castellan said. “This is the first significant heat of the year. (But) this is not record breaking… but it is coming for the south coast, central interior and northern interior.”

Temperatures were expected to be above average in the north, but not sufficient to warrant heat warnings, he said.

Dave Campbell, head of the BC River Forecast Centre, said the warmer weather is expected to add more water to the already high river levels.

“We are starting to see the critical portion of the snow melt,” Campbell said. “We’re certainly anticipating that rivers will remain elevated (and) unseasonably high into July. Flows along the rivers are extremely high for this time of year.”

Emergency Management BC regional director Pader Brach warned people in flood-prone areas  of the province to have a go-bag packed and be prepared to leave on short notice.

With the warm weather coming, people may be tempted to head down to the river to cool off, he said, but high water levels can cause erosion and undercut river banks, he warned.

“Remember to keep away from river edges,” Brach said. “River banks are very dangerous right now, and are prone to collapse.”

In Prince George, the city has closed the Heritage River Trail system from Taylor Drive to the boat launch and Paddlewheel Park because of flooding.