2012 Calgary Flood Study Predicted June’s Calamity

Published on : Sunday, December 15, 2013

British-Columbia-hit-by-flash-floodsThe Bow and Elbow rivers flooded in June, which left large sections of Calgary under water, damaging many homes and businesses. One year before flooding devastated Calgary, officials were given a study that advised the next big flood to hit the city would bring higher water levels and more widespread damage than was previously thought.

The study of the Bow and Elbow rivers began in 2009 and finished in April 2012. It was commissioned by the provincial government and the city, although not publicly released.​

After the June flooding, Diana McQueen, Alberta’s environment minister, said nobody could have expected it. What Alberta experienced in this past week is unprecedented, more rain, more quickly over a larger area than has ever been seen in this province.

John Pomeroy, Canada’s Research Chair in Water Resources and Climate Change at the University of Saskatchewan, said that the report was a inclusive update on previous studies, recalculating flood probabilities based on population growth along the floodplain.

City officials say they used the study for emergency planning, so that when a flood hit they would know which areas to prioritize for evacuations and bridge closures. The study was not broadly distributed because it was too technical for the public.

Senior planning engineer Frank Frigo said, however, the city pulled some of the data from the study, simplified it, and included it on a flood-risk web page.

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