UBC Civil In The Media – Engineers say better forecasting, co-ordinated warnings could protect B.C. from disasters

Originally published in: CBC

A panel of engineers says better forecasting and co-ordination could help prepare British Columbia for natural disasters, while they warn the spring thaw and rain may compound damage caused by recent floods.

The experts from the University of British Columbia shared their preliminary observations Wednesday on November’s floods, with geotechnical engineer Jonathan Fannin warning that snowmelt in the spring could add new pressure to dikes, highways and bridges.

“I think it’s in the back of our minds as the next expected demand on our system,” he said.

Spring thaws were responsible for the most catastrophic flood events in the Fraser Valley before the flooding this fall, Fannin said. They more commonly affect the Fraser River, not the Sumas River, which spilled onto farmland in Abbotsford, B.C.

In Merritt, a town of 7,000 that was ordered to evacuate last month, spring thaws are responsible for about 70 per cent of flood events, though they tend to be less severe than fall flooding, said Steven Weijs, an expert on hydrological modelling.

“Now we’re, of course, in a special situation because we have damaged infrastructure, which is more vulnerable,” he said.

More Media Coverage:

UBC engineers release report into November flooding disasterGlobal (Video)

Engineers say better forecasting, warnings could protect B.C. from disasters Global

Better forecasting, warnings could protect B.C. from natural disasters, engineers sayCTV

Main B.C. highway to reopen to essential traffic by Monday after stormsToronto Star