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

BC Ferries sailings filling up Family Day Monday

More than 20 sailings added between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen for long weekend

Vikes coach joining Team Canada at Pan Am Cross Country Cup

Two-time Olympian Hilary Stellingwerff named to coaching staff

The Music of Cream touring band more than a tribute act

Ginger Baker’s son Kofi, Clapton’s nephew Will joined by rock stalwarts for 50th anniversary tour

Nainamo grew faster than Greater Victoria in 2019

Other Vancouver Island communities also recorded growth, but at lower rates

VIDEO: Kawhi Leonard wins first Kobe Bryant All-Star MVP award

Leonard scored 30 points and hit eight 3-pointers to lead Team LeBron to a 157-155 victory

Monday marks one-year anniversary of man missing from Langley

42-year-old B.C. man, Searl Smith, was last seen leaving Langley Memorial Hospital on Feb. 17, 2019

Amtrak warns of delays as railways from Seattle to B.C. blocked by Wet’suwet’en supporters

Coastal GasLink said it’s signed benefits agreements with all 20 elected band councils along pipeline route

Federal emergency group meets on pipeline protests as rail blockades continue

There’s mounting political pressure for Trudeau to put an end to the blockades

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

B.C. man released from quarantined cruise ship in Japan

Because Spencer Fehrenbacher has American citizenship, he was evacuated by the U.S.

PHOTOS: Victoria Cougars beat rival Campbell River Storm on Valentine’s Day

Cougars win 6-2 and continue to lead the VIJHL as playoffs approach

Henrique scores 2 as Ducks soar past Canucks 5-1

Vancouver tumbles out of top spot in Pacific Division

Trudeau cancels Caribbean trip amid pipeline protests across Canada

Protests against Coastal GasLink have disrupted rail service

Most Read