Cool weather keeps water levels at bay
Published Thursday, April 14, 2011 4:48PM CST Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 2:27AM CST
Cooler temperatures have slowed the snow melt in Saskatchewan, but officials say that brief reprieve could set the stage for worse flooding later on.
While the colder weather has kept water levels from rising, a sudden warm spell could exacerbate the flooding situation.
The Saskatchewan Watershed Authority says rivers and creeks are receding slower than expected in several areas of the province.
Six communities are currently under local states of emergency, including the town of Radville, the Cowessess First Nation, the village of Abernethy and the Rural Municipalities of Estevan, Laurier and Elfros.
In Estevan, flooding has affected eight homes in the Woodlawn subdivision and about 20 more are being protected by sandbags.
While the water level in the Boundary Reservoir is dropping, officials are bracing for a second peak.
Meanwhile, near-record flows in Lumsden have caused widespread flooding at the bottom of the valley.
The watershed authority warns the Qu'Appelle River could rise to levels not seen since the massive flood in 1974. The water is expected to take weeks to recede.
"The message that we're trying to get out there is be prepared for 1974 levels," said John Fahlman, director of basin operations at the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority.
Flows remain high in Fort Qu'Appelle and the local hospital is still evacuated.
On Wednesday, close to 150 people were evacuated from their homes as floodwaters rose on the Cowessess First Nation.
The province has assembled a First Nations taskforce to provide reserves with equipment to protect their communities from flooding.
In Swift Current, water has reached dikes in some areas as flows continue to rise in the city. The cooler weather has allowed officials to drain water from the Duncairn Reservoir in anticipation of a second peak.
"In most cases, communities are keeping things under control," said public safety spokesman Duane McKay.
Regina still has yet to see flows spike. While Wascana Creek is starting to rise, the upper part of the basin is still packed with snow. The watershed authority is now predicting the city could see a one-in-50-year peak.
Low-lying areas across the city have already been inundated with water. The Joanne Goulet Golf Course is completely submerged, and several pathways near the creek are also under water.
Flows on the Moose Jaw River are still high at 200 cubic metres a second. But with no ice left on the river, officials aren't expecting any further flooding problems in the city. The high flows are expected to continue through the week.