BC Hydro issues safety advisory near Puntledge River after record rains

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The Puntledge River watershed has seen record precipitation amounts for the first 6 days of January measuring 300 per cent of normal.

The Puntledge River outside Courtenay was roaring Thursday drawing many people to Nymph Falls Regional Park to see the raging water.

“Oh, it’s amazing, absolutely amazing,” said Gordon Webb who was visiting the park. “It’s fascinating to watch and it draws you in but you have to be careful.”

And that’s what BC Hydro is asking of people near its water systems after record amounts of rainfall in the last few weeks.

“What’s interesting is the fall was drier than normal and we were in a bit of a deficit but near the end of December and certainly the first week of January it’s actually been a record amount of precipitation for the Ash River and Puntledge River system,” said BC Hydro Spokesperson Stephen Watson.

The Ash River is located north of Port Alberni.

So far, January 2021 has started off as the wettest recorded in the last 40 years – 300 per cent more than a standard year in the Puntledge watershed. Data shows that this year, 225 mm of precipitation has already fallen.

The Ash River watershed is also at 300 per cent of normal, while Campbell River is at 239 per cent and Jordan River is at 220 per cent of normal.

“So we have a public safety advisory for people to stay away from the Puntledge River system, and we’ve extended that to Friday next week, January 15th,” said Watson.

The freezing levels have remained normal as well, which means lots of snow has fallen at higher elevations.

“The snowpacks have not been very good on the island the last number of years so it would be nice to get an average or even above-average snowpack that’s good for power generation, fish habitat, domestic water supply, those kinds of things,” said Watson.

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