Flood preparedness with Alberta’s River Forecast Centre

May 5-11 is Emergency Preparedness Week, a national awareness initiative to encourage Canadians to take three steps to become better prepared in the event of an emergency:

  • Know the risks in your region
  • Make a family emergency plan and practice it
  • Prepare an emergency kit for your home and vehicle

At ESRD, our River Forecast Centre also takes steps to prepare for emergencies.

In the spring, heavy rains can cause river levels to rise quickly, and in some cases spill their banks.  The potential for spring flooding in Alberta depends on four factors – soil moisture, snowpack, temperatures and rainfall, with rainfall being the main driver.

Many municipalities, emergency responders and Albertans rely on the work of the River Forecast Centre to assess current river conditions and develop short-term forecasts based on data analysis and weather forecasts.  Current and historical data allow forecasters to predict potential flood locations, when flooding may occur, and when the river will peak.

Emergency Alerts

When conditions show a cause for concern, the centre will issue a high streamflow advisory, flood watch or flood warning through the Alberta Emergency Alert System and on ESRD’s website.

High Streamflow Advisory: stream levels are rising or expected to rise rapidly and no major flooding is expected. Minor flooding in low-lying areas is possible. Anyone situated close to the streams affected is advised to be cautious of the rising levels.

Flood Watch: stream levels are rising and will approach or may exceed bank. Flooding of areas adjacent to these streams may occur. Anyone situated close to the river is advised to take appropriate precautionary measures.

Flood Warnings: rising stream levels will result in flooding of areas adjacent to the streams affected. Anyone situated close to the river should take appropriate measures to avoid flood damage.

Emergency preparedness

Logo_EmergPrep_72HoursDuring a flood, local municipalities lead the emergency response and provide local residents the directions they need to follow to stay safe. Emergency response agencies provide additional on-site support.

Residents can stay informed through local media and the Alberta Emergency Alert System. You can also sign up for alerts through RSS feeds, Facebook and Twitter.

Don’t forget to prepare a flood plan and emergency kit. Use these tips to protect your family and home from a flood.

In addition to monitoring conditions, ESRD also works with municipal partners to ensure they are adequately prepared and have the capability to respond to a major event. This is done through training and by conducting emergency exercises to test their ability to respond.

Flood Hazard Identification Program

Flood damage can represent one of the largest expenses for disaster assistance programs. Identifying and mapping areas susceptible to flooding is one of the most effective ways of reducing flood damages over the long-term.  In Alberta, this is done through the Flood Hazard Identification Program.  These flood hazard studies are used for development planning by all levels of government, including local municipalities.

Flooding is a very real possibility along any of Alberta’s rivers and streams given the right conditions. In planning, preparing and responding to flood events, ESRD provides technical advice and expertise to emergency responders to support them in assisting Albertans.

By being prepared and working together, we hope to keep everyone safe during the transition from winter to spring and summer.

One thought on “Flood preparedness with Alberta’s River Forecast Centre

  1. Pingback: How does the ESRD River Forecast Centre respond to a flood? | Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development

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