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Provincial snowpack 79 per cent of normal

Snowpack levels as of May 1 range from a low of 15 per cent of normal in the Skagit to a high of 101 per cent in the Liard with the average of all snow measurements across the province calculated to be 79 per cent of normal, according to data released by the ministry of environment.

A well-below normal snowpack (<60 per cent of normal) is present in the Northwest, Vancouver Island, Similkameen, Nicola and Skagit. Below normal snowpack (60-80 per cent of normal) exists in the Stikine, Skeena-Nass, Nechako, Central Coast, South Coast, Lower Fraser, Okanagan, Boundary and East Kootenay. The rest of the province has slightly below normal to normal snowpack (80- 95 per cent of normal).

There are no regions in the province with above normal snowpacks.

The May 1st snow basin index for the entire Fraser River is 79 per cent of normal. Snow basin indices for May 1 are fairly similar to those for April 1.

One significant pattern this year is the difference between low-to-mid elevation and upper elevation snow. Particularly through the South Interior, snow below 1600m has almost completely disappeared as of early-May. This trend is two to three weeks ahead of when these regions would normally be snow-free (for many locations this was near-record early melt).

Conversely, cooler weather patterns have led to very limited melt at higher elevations (>1600m); upper elevation melt is one to two weeks behind normal. Snowpack gradients across elevation is unusual this year, with a rapid change from no snow to deeper snow packs occurring over a few hundred meters of elevation difference in many regions.

These conditions have developed due to extremely warm weather in late-March which kicked off ripening of mid-elevation snowpack, followed by cooler weather which has provided insufficient energy delivery to upper elevation snow to fully ripen and begin melting.

In central, eastern and northern B.C., this gradient is less pronounced, with current snowlines around the 1000-1200m elevation level.

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