Banff, Canmore and Kananaskis Country were under a heavy rainfall warning most of last week. A flood watch was posted about mid-week, upgraded to a flood warning on Thursday. Fire crews were out building sandbag berms along sections of the Bow River most at risk of flooding.
We headed to Canmore Friday afternoon, encountering extremely heavy rain throughout our drive. The water level in Lac des Arcs was higher than we’ve ever seen it. Canoe Cache, which we found by skating over to the little island a few winters ago, is probably long gone in the strong currents. Continuing west, we saw water covering low-lying areas all the way into Canmore and in a couple of spots, the water was within a few meters of the shoulder.
Friday evening it stopped raining for a bit. Mrs. GeoK went for a short walk and discovered all sorts of debris along the banks of Three Sisters Creek, one section where the creek was flowing in a new channel and a two places where the banks were significantly eroded.
Saturday morning the heavy rainfall warning was still in effect. In fact, we woke up to rain. But shortly after 8 o’clock, the rain turned to snow. The snowflakes clumped together as they fell, forming giant snow feathers! When it was still snowing heavily at about 11 o’clock, Mrs. GeoK managed to persuade Mr. GeoK to don full rain gear and join her for a walk down to the Bow River.
It finally stopped snowing about 4 o’clock, with somewhere around 5 – 6 cm of snow on the ground. With the sun making a valiant effort to break through the clouds, we headed out to explore further upstream along Three Sisters Creek. We discovered that both of the creek crossings below the old miners’ dam had been washed away by high water flows and that at some point during the extended heavy rainfall, a portion of the dam gave way. A review of the history of coal mining in the Canmore area suggests the dam was probably built more than one hundred years ago!
The heavy rainfall and flood warnings continued in effect overnight Saturday and well into Sunday. During a break in the rain this morning, we headed out for one more walk along the Bow River…
As of Sunday evening, the heavy rainfall and flood warnings have been lifted. A high stream advisory remains in effect in the Bow River valley, from Banff National Park downstream through Canmore and all the way into Calgary. Boaters are advised to stay off the river, including the new Harvie Passage training area for white-water enthusiasts and athletes. The rainfall over the past week will likely accelerate the melting of the heavy snowpack in the Rockies, which means high flow rates and muddy water will affect sports fishing well into the summer. Meanwhile, Canmore townsite residents are busy pumping water out of their flooded basements, hoping things will dry out soon.