Courtenay flooding this weekend now feared by BC Hydro

There is now a significant concern for the high tides, storm surge and the subsequent potential risk for flooding in the Courtenay area.

There is now a significant concern for the high tides, storm surge and the subsequent potential risk for flooding in the Courtenay area, BC Hydro said Friday afternoon.

BC Hydro monitors a water survey gauge (Gauge 10) located near the Fifth Street Bridge. Thursday, the combined river flows for the Puntledge, Browns and Tsolum rivers was only about 85 cubic metres per second (m3/s), yet the gauge hit 3.86 metres at 3:30 p.m. due to storm surges from the high wind.

This is only about 30 to 40 centimetres from localized flooding thresholds that we saw in November 2009, and January 2010, Stephen Watson of BC Hydro said in a news release.

Typically, total river flows need to reach about 400 m3/s to hit the 4.2-metre threshold to cause flooding, he explained. Considerably less than that would have caused flooding Thursday, he added.

The five-metre high tide that took place during the 3.86 m gauge 10 peak had a 0.67 storm surge to go with it, for a total high-tide level of 5.67 m.

BC Hydro forecasting is continuing to see significant rainfall for Saturday and early Sunday, along with significant snowmelt along mid-elevations from the warmer temperatures. This will impact local rivers and the rate of rise — they are very flashy systems.

The major concern is the forecasted high tide on Sunday morning, at about 8 a.m. of 5.3 m. That’s 0.3 m higher than Thursday.

“The high tide timing will be very close to the peak river flows,” Watson said. “If we have significant storm surges, with winds forecasted to be from the same direction as yesterday but of less intensity, this will also add on to the situation.”

This looks to be a situation where literally every drop counts in terms of flood risk, Watson stated. BC Hydro is changing its operations strategy.

Due to the lower-than-normal reservoir water levels for the time of year, BC Hydro is taking unprecedented action by shutting down the 24-megawatt powerhouse from around midnight Saturday through mid-morning Sunday to limit as much water as possible from moving downstream for the 8 a.m. high tide.

“Typically we operate within the 32- to 45-m3/s range during flood risk management conditions at high tide, and 110 m3/s or higher at low tide. For this storm, BC Hydro will provide only about 20 m3/s down the Puntledge River for the Sunday high tide.

“The only reason why BC Hydro is able to do this action is because of the low reservoir level, and the room to let it rise up to 1.5 m as a result. Given this is an intense but short-term storm event, we will have the ability to move water out of the system post-storm.”

BC Hydro will adjust its operations with ocean tides, and as a result, advises the public to stay away from the river through Sunday.

The concern is that the Browns River and Tsolum River, and tributaries that feed into the Courtenay River, will react and peak at the worst time. The Tsolum River, for example, if the weather forecast holds, may reach the 200 m3/s range.

BC Hydro held a conference call with the City of Courtenay earlier Friday about the increased risk of flooding. Although BC Hydro’s dam cannot eliminate the possibility of flooding, it can reduce the size, frequency and impact of such events.

Any questions on potential risk should be directed to Sandy Gray, City of Courtenay administrator, at 250-334-4441.

— BC Hydro

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vancouver Island couple’s sheep farm dream disrupted by high lumber price

The solar powered farm project in Sayward will be set back by three years if the lumber price continues to remain high

Valley RCMP still looking for missing man six months after disappearance

John Wesley Edwards (“Wes”) who was last seen in Courtenay on March 20.

Valley RCMP respond to three crashes in one night

If the conditions are less than optimal, drivers are expected to adjust their speed and slow down.

Tour de Rock rolls into the Comox Valley

The tour this year featured alumni riders cycling in their specific geographic area

Online series for Valley residents affected by dementia

An estimated 70,000 British Columbians currently living with some form of dementia

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Liberals reach deal with NDP on COVID-19 aid bill, likely averting election

NDP and the Liberals have reached an agreement on COVID-19 sick-leave

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Money laundering inquiry delayed over of B.C. election: commissioner

Austin Cullen says the hearings will start again on Oct. 26

2 British Columbians arrested, 3 at large in massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

Lumber hitting record-high prices as supply lags behind demand

B.C.’s forest industry hasn’t been able to keep pace with the COVID-19 building boom

Most Read