Chinook could lead to soggy basements and flooded streets: City
River flooding is not a risk at the moment, according to the experts
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The good news is that the warm weather we've been waiting for is coming.
The bad news is that it could mean a whole lot of snow melting very quickly.
The City of Calgary is warning residents that they could see localized flooding on streets and in basements as one of the heaviest snowfalls in years meets a Chinook weather system.
Environment Canada is forecasting temperatures to hit 17 degrees by Monday.
A release from the city said residents should shovel snow away from their home foundations and window wells to prevent seepage into basements.
They're also asking citizens to keep an eye on storm drains, and to clear snow away from storm drains near their homes
Ice, however, should not be cleared away. The city wants people to call 311 if they see a storm drain that is iced over so crews can come take care of those.
While the risk of localized flooding is increased, a large snowpack in Calgary does almost nothing to increase the risk of river flooding, according to city river engineer Sandy Davis.
"The snowpack in the mountains is high right now and it has an influence of river flooding but it's not the main driver," she said.
Davis said localized runoff could lead to slight variations in river levels, but flood season is not until May and June, when rain events in the mountain can lead to a large accumulation of water getting funnelled into rivers that are already high from runoff.
"The snowmelt can prime the watershed," she said. "With wet soil conditions – the rain has nowhere else to go."
Dr. John Pomeroy, Canada Research Chair in Water Resources and Climate Change, agreed that it's too early for mountain snowpacks to start melting.
"The snowpack is high in the mountains but not exceptionally so and it is not a record," said Pomeroy in an email to Metro. "By itself it should result in high river flows when it melts in spring and early summer but flooding would depend on a large rainfall event occurring during the snowmelt period and it is too early to say anything about that."
He said he and his team have developed a snowpack program that forecasts increases and decreases in the mountain snowpack. It's available at www.snowcast.ca.
"We are hoping that will help the mountain communities and Calgary stay more informed about the mountain snowpack and how it is forecast to change over the short term," he said.