With a significant rain event predicted to bring upward of 150 millimetres of rain in central and southern Alberta over the next three days, Alberta Environment has activated it’s department coordination centre to help manage the situation, officials said Monday.
During a press conference, Alberta Minister of Environment and Parks Jason Nixon said preparation are underway to respond to flooding should it occur.
“As you all know by now there are new or updated advisories in place for central and southern Alberta regarding river levels,” said Nixon, who is also acting Minister of Finance. “I know this is a tense time for many Albertans, and that is especially true for communities that were the centre of the devastating 2013 floods. While I realize having a flood warning or a flood watch in place will be especially difficult for folks in Calgary, High River, Canmore and other communities flooded in 2013, please note that Alberta is better prepared than ever for high river events.”
He called residents in potential flood areas to “please follow the latest details on river conditions and forecasts in your area. Please follow directions, and if there is a need to evacuate some areas – there is not right now – cooperate with your local officials who are working with to ensure everyone is safe.”
Nixon says has been in contact with municipal leaders in Sundre, Mountain View County, as well asf Rural Municipalities of Alberta officials regarding flood preparedness and management.
The government has also been in contact with the City of Calgary, Alberta Municipalities Association, and other organizations, and plans to speak with other municipal leaders, he said.
“The government of Alberta stands ready to assist as needed,” he said. “We are ready to help municipalities as needed.”
Nixon encouraged all residents to download Alberta’s river app and Alberta’s emergency alert app “to be kept informed of what it taking place.”
Lisa Jackson is the executive director, Environmental Emergency Management Branch of Alberta Environment and Parks.
“We are watching a significant rain event come in and it is starting to come into the Eastern Slopes (of the Rocky Mountains) and as it pushes up along the Eastern Slopes and we move upward on the mountains, we tend to see the rain intensify,” said Jackson.
Officials are forecasting upwards of 150 millimetres of rain could fall over the next three days, she said.
“The complicating factor is we have above-average snowpack in a lot of higher elevations so once the rain starts to fall in those areas it intensifies and actually gives us a bit of a worse problem as that snow melt increases the water flow,” she said.
The heaviest amounts of rain are expected in the High River area south of Calgary, she said.
There were 10 high stream flow advisories, 10 flood watches and five to six warnings that had been issued as of 4:30 p.m. Monday, she said.
“Those could be updated even later today,” she said.
Monitoring of the Red Deer River levels was ongoing, she said.