The City of Calgary – Preparing for flood season
With a higher-than-average snowpack, overland flooding affecting several Alberta communities and the five-year anniversary of the 2013 Southern Alberta flood, we know that river flooding is top-of-mind for Calgarians. It is our priority at the City of Calgary to monitor, manage and reduce flood risk, and to ensure citizens understand their risk and have the resources available to prepare.
River flooding impacts all Calgarians who live, work, commute or recreate in the city centre or along the Bow and Elbow Rivers. River flooding is most likely to occur between May 15 and July 15. We actively monitor river, weather and snow pack conditions to prepare for potential flooding. It is important to note that:
- Heavy rainfall upstream of Calgary has the biggest influence on river flood risk. These events are challenging to forecast because we are so close to the mountains. We can sometimes see potential rain events 5 to 7 days ahead, but by the time we know how high river flows may be, we may have less than 24 hours to respond appropriately.
- A high snowpack alone can cause high flows, but does not cause our rivers to flood. The snowpack in the mountains has been higher than average this year, however, lower spring temperatures in the mountains means the snow is melting slower than on the prairies, where snowmelt is causing flooding in other municipalities.
- The City and Province continuously monitor for conditions that can develop into flood events.
Since 2013, together with the Province, we have committed more than $150 million towards projects that will reduce our risk of river flood damage. We have also strengthened our understanding of the flow of the Bow and Elbow Rivers, how rivers change, flood modelling, forecasting, preparedness and response.
While we are working to reduce our risk of river flood damage, we cannot eliminate the risk of flooding entirely. Citizens have a critical role to play in preparing for river flooding.