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Flood warning for part of northwest B.C., other rivers rising as heat grips province

Bulkley and Skeena among several rivers of concern as heat accelerates BC snowmelt
The swollen Bonaparte River flows past an evacuated mobile home community in Cache Creek, B.C., on Sunday, May 14, 2023. A flood warning has been issued for the Skeena region of northwestern British Columbia as unseasonably warm temperatures swell rivers in many areas of the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The Skeena region of northwestern British Columbia is under a flood warning as unseasonably warm temperatures swell rivers in many areas of the province.

B.C.’s River Forecast Centre posted the warning Tuesday for the Skeena and Bulkley rivers and their tributaries across Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan territories, as well as from Telkwa to Terrace.

The hot weather is accelerating snowmelt across most of B.C., the centre said, estimating that the Bulkley River near Smithers would exceed flood stage by the end of the day.

Flooding on the Skeena River could reach a 20-year high as early as Wednesday, it said.

Several waterways in southern B.C. had also been upgraded to a flood watch as the River Forecast Centre warned the Kettle and Granby rivers in the Boundary basin and the Slocan River near Crescent Valley would continue to rise through the weekend.

Flood watches remained in effect for the Lower Thompson region of southern B.C., including Cache Creek, and the Deadman and Bonaparte rivers.

A section of the Bella Coola River on the central coast was also under a flood watch, while high streamflow advisories covered much of the rest of the province.

Thirty-seven heat records were set across B.C. on Monday, including in Smithers and Terrace, where the mercury hit 29.5 C, shattering a record that had stood in the Terrace area since 1925.

B.C. claimed the 10 hottest spots in Canada on Monday, with the Fraser Canyon community of Lytton topping the list at 36.5 C.

A statement from BC Hydro on Tuesday said power consumption in the province reached an all-time hourly high for May on Monday night, as people used fans and air conditioners to cool down.

Consumption hit 7,600 megawatts, and though temperatures have since cooled, the Crown utility said it expects above-average demand for the rest of the week.

The B.C. government on Tuesday also announced financial support for people affected by recent flooding in a dozen communities, including Cache Creek, West Kelowna, Grand Forks and six First Nations bands.

The Ministry of Emergency Management said disaster financial assistance is available to those affected by floods between April 27 and May 16, 2023.

It’s available to homeowners, tenants, business owners and others who were unable to obtain insurance to cover disaster-related losses, it said.

Those seeking compensation after a flooding event have 90 days to apply.

READ MORE: Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine declares state of emergency amid flooding

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READ MORE: B.C.’s financial assistance application now open for 2023 flood damages