Elbow River expected to peak sometime Tuesday, Bow River on Wednesday evening

Calgary officials are continuing to monitor the skies closely as the city’s major rivers are expected to receive peak flows Tuesday and Wednesday.

The city’s latest modelling shows the peak for the Bow River coming on Wednesday evening. The Elbow River is expected to peak Tuesday, with an update on the timing expected later in the day.

The city remains under a state of local emergency called on Monday. 

The latest:

  • Environment Canada issued a wind warning shortly after 11:30 a.m., cautioning that the wet ground from ongoing rain could lead to an increased risk of tree falls.
  • A flood warning previously issued for the Highwood River main stem from the town of High River to the Bow River confluence has been downgraded to a high streamflow advisory.
  • City officials have closed a portion of Memorial Drive to construct a temporary berm.
  • Plans to construct a berm to protect the community of Bowness are paused. Officials are seeking an alternative solution.
  • Residents of Sunnyside and Bowness could see officials go door-to-door to warn of evacuation orders if conditions worsen.
  • Susan Henry, chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, says she wants to see this afternoon’s forecast before any decisions are made on evacuations.
  • Boating advisories are in place for the Bow and Elbow rivers. Recreation access to the Glenmore Reservoir is restricted.
  • City officials say it’s encouraging to see that the rain isn’t as heavy as initially forecast.

The two areas that the city remains most concerned about are the Bowness and Sunnyside communities. It has closed off Memorial Drive between 10th Street N.W. in the Kensington area and Edmonton Trail N.E.

Sunnyside resident Colton O’Reilly said last night he received an emergency signal and is waiting to see what happens next.

“We’re keeping our eyes on the river,” he said.

Sunnyside resident Colton O’Reilly says he’s hopeful mitigation efforts put in place over the last number of years can prevent damage on the scale of the 2013 floods. (Charlotte Dumoulin/Radio-Canada)

That closure was done for the construction of a temporary berm that runs across Memorial Drive. City officials decided to take that mitigation measure Monday given the forecast in the coming days.

“There isn’t flooding occurring yet, but it’s a protective measure should the water level come to what we think it might,” Susan Henry, chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, told the Calgary Eyeopener on Tuesday morning.

City officials previously lowered the Glenmore Reservoir to attenuate the water coming in. For that reason, officials are not as concerned about the Elbow River as of Tuesday morning — keeping in mind that things could change as forecasts change.

“Things are definitely under control. We learned a lot in 2013,” said Henry, referring to the combination of rapidly melting snow in the mountains and seemingly endless rainfall that caused $5 billion in damages and claimed five lives in southern Alberta in 2013.

“The fact that we’re talking about this days before the peak of the river is expected is actually really good news.

“We can’t take away all the risk, which is why we are concerned about areas like Sunnyside and Bowness. There is risk for them.”

Susan Henry, chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, left, spoke during an emergency management committee meeting held Tuesday morning. Henry said the city wants to see the next forecast this afternoon before making decisions on possible evacuations. (CBC)

On Monday, Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek said the state of local emergency allows police and fire departments to go door-to-door in the event of an evacuation.

It also gives the city’s water services team access to property to protect critical infrastructure, and secure supplies quickly if need be.

The town of High River, which was devastated as part of the 2013 floods, was previously under a flood warning.

That was downgraded to a high streamflow advisory. The town has been building up flood mitigation infrastructure since 2013.

“The emotions are still raw in this town, and I don’t think that’ll go away for a lot of people for the rest of our lives,” said High River Mayor Craig Snodgrass during a media availability held Tuesday. 

“It’s just making sure we’re always on top of things … we can never be complacent.”

High River Mayor Craig Snodgrass spoke during a media availability held Tuesday morning. A flood warning previously issued for High River has been downgraded to a high streamflow advisory. (CBC News)

In a warning issued Tuesday shortly after 10 a.m., Environment Canada said periods of heavy rain would continue throughout the day, with rainfall totals between 75 to 125 mm of rain by Wednesday morning in the Calgary region.

The heaviest rain is expected to fall to the west, the agency said, with rainfall totals of 150 mm or more possible along the Foothills and in the front range of the Rocky Mountains.

The agency said rainfall is expected to taper off through the day on Wednesday.

More to come.

City of Calgary’s flood risk zone map

A map provided by the city of Calgary outlines the areas that could see the most impact from rainfall. Those areas include Sunnyside, Prince’s Island Park and portions of Bowness and Hillhurst. (City of Calgary)

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