Things have been relatively quiet on the quilting front in this house for the past couple of weeks. We have been in various stages of flood preparedness since early April. Many of my books, magazines, and totes of fabric have been removed from the basement and are scattered throughout the upstairs area--raising them to safety above the flood plain. I have managed to quilt a customer quilt and finish quilting one quilt of my own, but much of my free time has been spent focusing on the possibility of flooding. Many parts of British Columbia remain on various stages of high stream advisory, flood watch, or flood warning.
On Monday, the Fraser River plateaued at 6.0 metres on the Mission gauge. Although this indicates a reduced level of flood hazard, the water level is predicted to remain at close to 6.0 meters for at least the next few weeks. During this time, any period of hot weather or heavy rainfall could increase the water level beyond 6.0 metres.
The first disastrous flood in the Fraser Valley occurred in 1894. With no protection against the rising waters of the Fraser River, the Fraser Valley was inundated with water.
After the 1894 flood, a diking system was constructed throughout the Fraser Valley. The diking and drainage projects greatly improved the flood problems, but unfortunately over time, the dikes were allowed to fall into disrepair and became overgrown with brush and trees. With some dikes constructed of a wooden frame, they gave way in 1948 in several locations, marking the second disastrous flood.
In June 1894, the Fraser River flooded the Fraser Valley. The high water mark at Mission reached 8.9 meters.
1948 saw massive flooding in areas along the Fraser River. The high water mark at Mission rose to 7.2 meters.
In 1948, throughout the May 24 long weekend, the waters of the Fraser were rising steadily, but only a few thought any real danger lay ahead. Cool temperatures during March, April and early May had delayed the melting of the heavy snow pack that had accumulated over the winter season. Several days of hot weather and warm rains over the holiday weekend in late May hastened the thawing of the snow pack. Rivers and streams quickly swelled with spring runoff, reaching heights surpassed only in 1894.
Locally, we measure the level of the Fraser River downstream at the Mission bridge and we measure the flow of the water as it passes under the bridge at Hope. These two measuremets coupled with the level of snow pack remaining in the interior mountains helps to predict the likelihood of flooding near where we live.
Year Level at Mission (m) Flow at Hope (cms)
1894 8.9 n/a
1948 8.2 15,300
1972 7.4 13,000
1999 6.3 11,000
2007 Forecast 7.0-7.5 12,500
We are very dependent on the weather and river conditions in the north central area of our province. 60% of the snow pack remains in the mountains in the interior of the province. As this snow melts and finds its way down northern rivers to the Fraser River, the level of the Fraser River rises. What happens to the Fraser River in Prince George finds its way quickly to the Lower Mainland within 2 to 3 days.
We continue to watch the level of the river as it passes by our community. We remain equally focused on every word of the weather forecaster on TV as we watch for signs of significant weather changes--either prolonged periods of heat or rain. Flood forecasting has become a topic of conversation everywhere and it seems everyone is trying their hand at predicting just how high the river will rise this year and whether or not it will topple its banks and challenge the diking system that protects our community.
The following link leads to a page with video clips of the Fraser River. Scroll down to "Agassiz Rosedale Bridge" for a video clip of the river as it passes below the bridge that crosses the Fraser River between Rosedale and Agassiz. My DH and I stood in this various spot days ago and watched the mighty Fraser River both amaze and terrify us with its force and speed.