June 2013 Calgary Flood

We’re well into Day 3 of the June 2013 flood in Calgary. There have been so many amazing, heart-breaking, inspiring, eye-popping (running out of adjectives here) images and stories shared via Twitter (#yycflood) and through the local media that I seriously debated whether to add to the deluge of images and other observations.

Ultimately, I decided to go ahead with this post because for more than 5 years, this blog has been my digital journal, where I’ve blended pictures and words to keep a record of our hiking, biking and other adventures. And this flood definitely qualifies as an adventure – “an unusual and exciting,…hazardous…experience.”

Sitting safe and sound in west Calgary, it’s pretty much impossible to imagine what the past 3 or 4 days have been like for those in the flood zone. Since Thursday, hundreds of thousands of southern Albertans have evacuated their homes, many with very little notice. As the flood waters recede and conditions permit, City of Calgary officials are gradually allowing families to return home. Some homes are gone entirely, washed away in the turbulent currents. Others will require extensive remediation and repair. I expect it that for those hardest hit, it will take months (or maybe even years) for things to return to “normal”.

Yesterday we set out to get a first-hand look at some parts of the city. City officials have repeatedly asked Calgarians to stay off the roads, to leave them clear for the first responders who are working so hard to keep everyone safe and minimize the flood damage. So we hopped on our bikes, stuck to back streets, and stayed on high ground, well away from any evacuation zones. Our first stop was the top section of Edworthy Park, where we watched the filthy, raging Bow River flowing towards downtown Calgary. Sun angle and haze combined to defeat our attempts to create good photographs, so I resorted to using the “key line” filter to get a few images…


From Edworthy Park we rode through several southwest Calgary neighbourhoods well out of the flood zones. Lots of residents were taking advantage of the sunshine to mow lawns and do other household chores, so they’ll be ready to answer the call when City officials decide the time is right to mobilize the mass of volunteers impatiently waiting to help with clean-up and recovery. Others were out trying to get a closer look at the flooding. The pathways were crowded in North Glenmore Park, which was our next stop. I stopped here Thursday evening, before the flooding started in Calgary but when we knew it was on coming, so we have a couple of “before and after” comparisons…

Weaselhead, where the Elbow River empties into the Glenmore Reservoir, Thursday night:
Elbow River Delta - Thursday, June 20
Same area, Saturday morning (after the Elbow River peaked and had already started to recede):
Elbow River Delta - Saturday, June 22

Glenmore Reservoir, Thursday night:
Glenmore Reservoir - water level is very low with one fast-moving channel along the near shoreline
Glenmore Reservoir, Saturday morning:
Glenmore Reservoir full of dirty flood water from the Elbow River

We rode all through North Glenmore Park, stopping at the east end to look across towards Heritage Park and up towards the Glenmore Trail causeway, which crosses the Reservoir.


From there, we rode the increasingly crowded pathway along the causeway and up over Glenmore Trail, to take a quick look at the Glenmore Dam. We saw a lot of debris in the reservoir and the water level was still high enough that it was spilling over the top of the dam.

Glenmore Reservoir, just upstream of the Glenmore Dam and looking towards the Glenmore causeway


The Mayor and other city officials have decided that the downtown core will remain closed until at least Wednesday and Calgary schools are closed at least for tomorrow. We’ll continue to monitor various media outlets in the days to come, but will probably head out on another bike ride early in the week, so watch for more Calgary flood photos in a few days.

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2 thoughts on “June 2013 Calgary Flood

  1. Pingback: Nearby Nature – June 2015 | Out and About with the GeoKs

  2. We thought we had the rivers under control. We built the Bearspaw Dam, the Glenmore Reservoir and massive berms to help mitigate flood risk in Calgary. Some people refer to the floods of 1902, 1915, 1923, 1929, 1932 as evidence that Calgary has seen all this before, and that nothing in the realm of climate change is responsible for this latest disaster.

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