Snowpack near normal across B.C. a year after extreme drought

Warm weather means runoff is underway early and B.C. rivers are already swelling: River Forecast Centre

Mountain snowpacks are healthy

Mountain snowpacks are healthy

B.C. has near-normal snow levels in the mountains this spring, in sharp contrast to last year’s record-low snowpack that contributed to severe drought conditions.

The unusual dearth of snow the previous year was followed by extreme water sprinkling restrictions in the Lower Mainland, as well as angling closures and heightened risk of forest fires across much of the province.

The River Forecast Centre’s new bulletin says the Fraser River watershed now averages 96 per cent of normal snowpack, and ranges from about 75 per cent of normal in the upper Fraser to about 113 per cent in the south Thompson. The province-wide average is 91 per cent.

The lowest snowpacks – 50 to 60 per cent normal – are in the far north and in the Skagit watershed near Chilliwack, while the Okanagan has the highest reading at 120 per cent.

RELATED: Vancouver Island water watchers relax as solid snowpack confirmed

The snowpack has held and even grew in most areas in March despite temperatures that ran one to three degrees above normal across southern B.C. and two to four degrees above normal in the Kootenays, central and northern B.C.

But while there’s ample snow left, it’s suddenly melting off fast.

All stations in the province recorded snow melt over the past week, and officials say the transition from snow accumulation to melt is two to three weeks earlier than usual this spring.

As of early April, virtually all rivers are flowing well above their normal levels for this time of year.

The earlier freshet this spring is expected to mean an earlier peak – when any threat of localized flooding would be highest – as well as an earlier drop to low flows in the summer.

There’s an elevated seasonal flood risk in the Okanagan basin in particular, while the risk is rated normal in most other regions, including the lower Fraser from Hope downstream. The Skagit and some northern watersheds may instead face another low-flow summer.

The River Forecast Centre says mid- to low-elevation snowpacks are greatly diminished due to persistent warm weather through the winter.

Snowpack is one factor but officials say weather and the speed of run-off is the key factor that will determine if rivers flood.

“We’re watching out for the warm weather extending, or heavy rain,” said River Forecast Centre section head David Campbell.

He noted the levels of lower Fraser tributaries like the Chilliwack, Harrison and North Shore rivers depend more on local rainfall than snowpack.

Seasonal forecasts from Environment Canada are indicating a high likelihood of above-normal temperatures across British Columbia over the April to June period, and an increased chance of warmer than normal temperatures through the extended forecast period into the summer months.

– with files from John McKinley

 

Blue regions have above average snowpack, yellow and orange areas are below normal. River Forecast Centre map.

Just Posted

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Woman’s 100-km birthday marathon from Chilliwack to Abbotsford will benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

Missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs was found deceased on Thursday evening (June 17).
Body of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs found

Hobbs was reported missing Monday after leaving his job site in Langley

UFV athletes were honoured for their strength and perseverance during the pandemic. (UFV photo)
Fraser Valley athletes recognized in year without sports

UFV Cascades athletes honoured for strength shown during the pandemic

web
Mission students hold rally, say everyone welcome at school

Ecole Christine Morrison Elementary School hosted an Anti-Racism Day on June 15

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Surrey Fire Service battled a dock fire along the Fraser River late Friday night (June 18). It was on Musqueam Drive, near Industrial Road, around 10:45 p.m. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
VIDEO: Fire engulfs pier on Surrey side of the Fraser River

Dock has reportedly been unused for a long time

People in Metro Vancouver can expect to experience a short wave of heat just in time for Father’s Day, according to Environment Canada. (Black Press Media files)
Short-lived heatwave headed for Metro Vancouver this weekend

Temperatures are expected to be up to 10 degrees higher than average Sunday and Monday

Most Read