Melting, especially at the low- to mid-level in the southern Interior, has been well ahead of schedule while the bulletin warns that limited runoff across Vancouver Island, the south coast and Lower Fraser regions could create low flow issues in rivers this summer. (Jenna Hauck/ Progress file)

Low B.C. snowpacks reduce flood risk, hike chance of summer droughts

The River Forecast Centre will issue another update on the flood risk forecast May 22

Snowpacks across British Columbia are below normal this year, reducing the likelihood of flooding but raising the spectre of dry conditions this summer.

The River Forecast Centre has released its latest Snow Survey and Water Supply Bulletin showing the average of all mountain snowpacks in B.C. is calculated at just 79 per cent of normal.

The northwest, Vancouver Island, Nicola and Similkameen regions have snowpacks below 60 per cent of normal.

The Skagit, which lies along the United States border between Hope and Princeton, has a snowpack level of just 15 per cent of normal, while the report says no regions in B.C. have above normal snow levels.

READ MORE: Watering restrictions in effect May 1 in Metro Vancouver

Melting, especially at the low- to mid-level in the southern Interior, has been well ahead of schedule while the bulletin warns that limited runoff across Vancouver Island, the south coast and Lower Fraser regions could create low flow issues in rivers this summer.

It also flags the well-below normal snowpack in the northwest and Stikine regions as an indication for the potential for low seasonal runoff.

Although the unseasonably early snowmelt pattern and skimpy overall snowpacks could affect river levels in July and August, the immediate forecast likely offers some relief to Okanagan and southern B.C. communities ravaged by floods last spring.

“At this stage in the season there is no elevated flood risk present in the current snowpack across the province,” the report states.

The peak freshet season is due to arrive in watersheds, including the Kettle River through Grand Forks, Mission Creek near Kelowna and the Similkameen River around Princeton, within the next week or two.

The centre offers the caution that usually wet conditions across B.C. in May and June could quickly alter its predictions.

“Weather during the freshet season also plays a key role, and flooding is possible in years with near normal or low snowpack,” the report says.

“In areas with low snowpack, key flood risks shift towards heavy precipitation events, either short-duration events or prolonged periods of wet weather.”

Heavy rains could extend the flood season in the Rockies and northeast into July, the report says, although it also notes that seasonal forecasts from Environment Canada are currently calling for a period of warmer weather across British Columbia.

The River Forecast Centre will issue another update on the flood risk forecast May 22.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kootenay-Columbia MP urges end to ‘illegal roadblocks’ in solidarity with pipeline dispute

Rob Morrison says protestors across Canada need to remove roadblocks on roads, rail lines

Golden Food Bank looks for community support heading into summer

The food bank will be looking to keep momentum going from a succesful holiday season

Kicking Horse conditions update, Friday February 21

Kicking Horse reports no new snow in the last 24 hours. The… Continue reading

Golden Highway Update, Friday February 21

Watch for slippery sections between Quartz Creek Bridge and the western boundary… Continue reading

Moberly based Northern Silica to close doors

The layoffs come just a month after a temporary layoff over the holidays in December

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

Tyler Toffoli scores twice, Canucks crush Bruins 9-3

Stecher, Miller each add three points for Vancouver

Zamboni driver, 42, earns NHL win over Maple Leafs

Emergency goalie called into action for Carolina Hurricanes

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

Landlord ordered to pay $11K after harassing B.C. mom to move days after giving birth

Germaine Valdez was pressured to move just a few days after giving birth by C-section to her child

Heart attacks strike B.C. husband and wife just over one year apart

Courtenay couple share personal stories to bring awareness to heart month

‘Nothing surprises us anymore:’ U.S. border officials find brain in package

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found the brain packed in a glass mason jar in a Canada Post shipment

Adapting to love along the Columbia River

One man starts a GoFundme to help his partner with health costs caused on the trip where they met

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Most Read