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Flooding Update in the West

This year, much of the interior and lower mainland of BC has experienced some of the heaviest snow falls since 1974.  A lot of the snow fall arrived and accumulated late in the season.  The late spring (or the spring that didn’t exist) has pushed the melt or freshet into the early summer months – late June and possibly July.

The effect of this late freshet is that we are experiencing the high water levels and flooding at various locations around the Province into late June and likely into the first part of July.  Flash flooding is a product of this late season melting, especially when coupled with severe or higher than average rainfalls which we often get around this time of year.  Measurements of snow – remaining snow pack – suggests there may still be significant snowmelt yet to come.

Therefore we may see higher than average water levels off and on well into the summer depending on how the weather conditions prevail throughout these typical hotter months.

High volume rivers have much stronger down-drafting, vertical seams when 2 primary currents meet.  The river may look flat on the surface but these lines between the primary currents act like eddy lines and can have incredibly strong vertical currents.

Higher floatation volume PFD’s should be used around this type of high water environment.  It is imperative that they fit properly to prevent “flush drowning” if the wearer is swept away.

Make sure any children or inexperienced swimmers and boaters you are responsible for, stay clear of these conditions.  PFD’s used under these conditions should be equipped with crotch straps that are worn and fitted properly.

Regarding “flash flooding”; know what is upstream on any creek, stream or river near where you live.  Log jams become log dams which can burst and when created on a creek, stream or river with a mixed gravel substrate, the flash flood can become an all out debris flow where your chances of survival are typically close to zero.

Always be aware and stay away.

Safety Tip:      Balance: Your Foundation

Losing your balance is usually the first physical step leading to a series of events which can result in serious injury or, in extreme cases, drowning.  For those trained to rescue others or who play and work in higher volume rivers, a higher float PFD is better.  However low floatation PFD’s may also be considered when ease of body movement and a lot of swimming for instance is expected.

Proper footwear is also critical to avoid slipping or getting caught in rocks etc. Especially when losing your balance.

Be extra careful where there are slick, algae coated or wet rocks along the river bank and just below the high water line.  This is the Red Zone (within 5 m of moving water) where most accidents occur.

Boots with soft, sticky-rubber soles become less effective when water temperatures drop below 20°C.  They also tend to stiffen up and become hard and slippery below 10°C.  An option to use on slippery rocks is to have your boots fitted with felt soles.  Fishermen have been using felt soled shoes and boots for years and would not be as comfortable and efficient on the river without them.  Felt bottoms are easily glued onto any water shoe or boot and you will find they have amazing grip on most wet surfaces.  Felt is not great on mud, grass, snow and ice though.

So, if you are in the business and inclined to be around these conditions a lot or at various times, you may need 2 sets of water shoes or boots to insure proper grip and balance in all conditions.

On an Eco note, it is a good idea to wash or soak your boots and especially the sole in a solution of water and Myzine.  This is specially formulated to remove any organics that may have become stuck to or entrapped in your footwear.  This will help prevent the transport of water borne pathogens from one body of water to another.

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