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Flash-flood fears subside as evacuation order lifts in Okanagan

The risk of flash floods appeared to have lessened in British Columbia's Naramata area west of Chuke Lake, where an evacuation order has been lifted.

Mark Woods, a spokesman for the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, said Saturday that water levels above a dam had dropped to 20 centimetres after a high of 50 centimetres a day earlier when the order was issued for 46 homes.

Water flow to a deteriorating forestry road was the major concern, said Dale Kronebusch, another district spokesman.

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"If the road was to blow out, because that's what was causing the concern, we had no way to know which way that bulk of water and maybe some dirt and trees and shrubs that would have been picked up along the way, would have gone."

Mr. Kronebusch said heavy rainfall in recent days has been replaced by sunshine, but that could mean faster snowmelt for the community depending on how dry the weather gets.

Heavy rains, record snow packs and early warm weather have combined to create unique weather conditions leading to the risk of flash floods in the area.

"It's just off the wall," Mr. Kronebusch said. "It's a freak thing that we have warm weather two weeks earlier than we did last year, the same amount of snowpack and then we ended up with this horrendous rainstorm that came through."

Flooding has recently occurred in areas such as Kimberley and Tulameen, west of Kelowna, where a local state of emergency was declared earlier this week.

Mr. Kronebusch said the lake water in Tulameen dropped by 61 centimetres from its peak earlier this week, but an evacuation alert remains in effect.

"It's sunny there today, and lots of people are coming up from Vancouver to check their place," he said, adding the seasonal community has about 175 permanent residents.

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A River Forecast Centre advisory said levels in the Similkameen River tributaries were expected to drop on the weekend as conditions improved.

However, significant snowpack throughout the region means there's still a risk of floods.

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