By Steve Hubrecht
[email protected]

The B.C. River Forecast Centre has ended its flood watch for Fairmont Hot Springs and the rest of the Columbia Valley. 

The centre issued the watch on Sunday, June 12 for all areas of the East Kootenay prone to flooding. At the time, several days straight of heavy, prolonged rain loomed in a 72-hour forecast calling for 50 millimetres of rain in Fairmont. At the same time local rivers and lakes had already begun to fill up with spring runoff.

The Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) then put out a press release advising local residents to be cautious, especially around areas such as Cold Spring Creek and Fairmont Creek, which have seen significant flooding or debris flows multiple times in the past decade.

Prolonged rain did come to the Columbia Valley, but quite not as much as had been feared. By Wednesday, Jun. 15, when the local flood watch in the Columbia Valley ended, the total amount of rainfall across the East Kootenay was in the 20 mm to 30 mm range, according the B.C. River Forecast Centre. 

“Temperatures dropped significantly, with reduced snowmelt rates and some precipitation falling as snow at mid-to-high elevations. Rivers are experiencing lower levels than forecasted,” reported the centre. “In some areas, flows remain high but are not anticipated to reach flood stage as the runoff from this recent storm continues to pass over the coming day.”

On Friday, Jun. 17, Environment Canada issued a severe thunderstorm watch for the East Kootenay, including the Columbia Valley. A storm did come, but did not result in another flood watch. 

Still, the B.C. River Forecast Centre is noting that advisories and warnings may change quickly and is advising the public to stay clear of the fast-flowing rivers and potentially unstable riverbanks during the high-streamflow period.