Snow pack at 76% of normal

Snow pack accumulation trends from early in the season have persisted throughout March.

  • Apr. 13, 2015 9:00 a.m.

CAROLYN GRANT

The snow pack in the East Kootenay remains unchanged from last month at 76 per cent of normal, according to the BC River Forecast Centre’s latest report. That is considered moderately low.

However, there are a couple of areas in the province where the snow packs are extremely low, those being the South Coast at 13 per cent of normal and Vancouver Island at 15 per cent.

Snow pack accumulation trends from early in the season have persisted throughout March.

Snow accumulation through the month has been modest, and in some cases some locations experienced a net loss of snow.  Declines in snow basin indices were observed in almost all basins between the March and April surveys.

Field observations around the province indicate that snow packs at valley bottom to mid-elevation (e.g. 800-1100m) is limited.  As most snow basin indices are based on observations at higher elevations (e.g. 1100m-2000m), indices reported may not fully reflect the snow pack situation at low to mid-elevation.

Environment Canada is forecasting a very high likelihood of above normal temperatures over the April to June period across British Columbia, particularly for the coastal areas.

By early April, nearly all of the annual BC snow pack has accumulated, with a typical peak accumulation occurring in mid-April.  Additional accumulation through April is possible, but given the existing conditions, it is expected that the province will generally start the melt at mid to high elevations this month.

This means there is less likelihood of flooding this spring as the runoff begins. Given the snow conditions this year for most of the province, extreme weather, such as extreme precipitation or combined hot and wet weather, would be required to produce flooding or higher than expected flows, the snow report says.

With extremely low snow packs in the Lower Fraser, South Coast, Skagit and Vancouver Island, runoff from snow melt will be limited.  Seasonal low flows are expected to occur earlier than normal this year; very low flows can be expected in the summer unless significant rainfall occurs through the spring and summer.  Lower snow packs in the West Kootenay, East Kootenay, Boundary, Similkameen, Okanagan, Stikine-Nass and Northwest indicate an increased likelihood of summer low flows in these regions as well.