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Vernon  

Good news and bad news

There is good news and not-so-good news.

The good news is there may not be as much flooding this year, but the bad news is there could be wildfires,

A bulletin from the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce said an April 12 webinar hosted by the Okanagan Basin Water Board looked at water supply for the region as well as the wildfire outlook for 2019, and flood risk looks to be moderate.

In 2017, the North Okanagan was flooded in many areas as snowmelt and heavy rains soaked the area throuygh the month of April.

The flooding in 2018 was significantly less and it is looking even better this year.

"There's a lot less risk coming into this year," said David Campbell, a section head with B.C.'s River Forecast Centre.

The provincial government plans to keep outflows from Okanagan Lake low during freshet (snow runoff) so it can get within 100 centimetres of full pool of 342.48 metres. However, discharge from the dam in Penticton could increase depending on spring rainfall.

Officials are also looking to see if there will be sufficient drinking water in the Okanagan.

"Spring is starting dry, but the rains of May and June are critical for summer water supply," said Doug Lundquist, a meteorologist with Environment Canada.

While that lack of moisture on the form of snowpack and rain might bode well for flood concerns, it could mean a long, smoky summer.

In terms of wildfire, the season could be influenced by average to lower than average snowpack, above normal temperatures for April, May and June and below normal precipitation.

"Earlier freshet means a potentially longer fire season," said Robert Warner, with the B.C. Wildfire Service.

Above seasonal temperatures are currently expected for the summer.

"We are seeing signs that the fire season is likely to be busier than normal," said Warner, adding that the severity of wildfires could be impacted by rainfall, wind and drying trends.T



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