Communities along South Saskatchewan River brace for approaching floodwaters

Geekquinox

Flood waters are just starting to recede in those areas of Alberta first impacted by the flooding, but communities downstream, especially along the South Saskatchewan River, are now bracing themselves as the massive volume of water works its way through the province's rivers and streams towards them.

An estimated 175,000 people have been evacuated from Calgary and other communities in southern Alberta, with the latest in Oldman River Valley and Little Bow River Valley in Lethbridge County due to the high volume of water being released from the Travers Dam, and in Medicine Hat, where an estimated 10,000 people have been evacuated from areas of the city along the South Saskatchewan River in anticipating of the rising waters.

[ More Geekquinox: How weather, geography made Alberta a prime target for flooding ]

The main concern for these areas is that they may get worse flooding than we've already seen over the past few days, as several rivers that have caused problems elsewhere — including the Bow River, the Highwood River and the Oldman River — all empty out into the South Saskatchewan River. Therefore, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and other communities along the river, in Alberta and in Saskatchewan, will see the combined effects of all that water.

"There’s a lot of water coming from the Oldman and Bow Rivers, and people who were here in 1995 know that it was a big flood," said Medicine Hat Mayor Norm Boucher, speaking to Medicine Hat News. "We’re not trying to scare anyone, but whoever was subject to flooding in 1995 will probably get it again."

"We’re planning for the worst," Mayor Boucher said. "We have to make sure that people are safe, and if we can protect some properties we will do that, but water and electricity are so important. People have to live and people will come back… we’ll come through this."

It's not just southern parts of the province under states of emergency. There is a local state of emergency in Kneehill County, and there have been evacuations in Drumheller, both to the northeast of Calgary, as water levels on the Red Deer River rise and are expected to peak Sunday morning. There is also a state of emergency and evacuations in low-lying parts of the Town of Devon, southwest of Edmonton, along the North Saskatchewan River, as river levels begin to rise there as well.

[ More Geekquinox: Devastating floods force tens of thousands from their homes Alberta ]

According to Saskatchewan's Water Security Agency, water levels along the South Saskatchewan River are expected to continue to rise through the weekend and peak on Monday. The weather forecast for southern Alberta and Saskatchewan continues to call for more rain, with showers and thundershowers possible for Sunday, rain for southern Alberta on Monday, which may add to the flooding problems.

Geek out with the latest in science and weather.
Follow @ygeekquinox on Twitter!