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Snowpack in B.C. 39 per cent below normal; summer drought feared

As of February 1 st, the provincial snowpack remains very low, averaging 61 per cent of normal (39 per cent below normal) across British Columbia (Jan 1: 56 per cent). Last year, the provincial average was 79 per cent for Feb 1. The Fraser River is 62 per cent for Feb 1.

Extreme cold temperatures mid-month and extreme warm conditions late-month resulted in overall monthly temperatures close to normal for January.

Due to the extremely low snow conditions, below normal spring freshet flood hazard is expected this season, especially in the Interior.

Low snowpack and seasonal runoff forecasts combined with warm seasonal weather forecasts and lingering impacts from previous drought are creating significantly elevated drought hazards for this upcoming spring and summer.

There are still two to three months left in the snow season. While conditions may change slightly over this period, current trends in low snowpack are expected to persist.

Snow Basin Indices (SBI) for February 1 ranged from a low of zero per cent of normal in the Skagit to a high of 90 per cent in the Stikine. Overall, the provincial snowpack remains extremely low for February 1, with all snow measurements averaging 61 per cent of normal (39 per cent below normal). Only three basins recorded above 80 per cent of normal (Stikine: 90 per cent, Okanagan: 86 per cent and South Thompson: 81 per cent). Nine snow stations measured all-time
lows for their period of record.

Most regions in the province measured slight increases in snow basin indices compared to last month (January 1). Notable increases in relative percent of normal were the Okanagan and Similkameen, which increased by 22 and 28 percentage points, respectively. Drier than normal conditions in the North Coast resulted in SBI decreasing in the Skeena-Nass, Central
Coast and Nechako. Whereas Vancouver Island decreased relative to normal due to very warm late-January temperatures and heavy rain that caused significant snowmelt.

Last year, the February 1 average of all snow stations in British Columbia was 79 per cent of normal. Snow basin indices are much lower this year compared to 2023 due to very dry and warm conditions through the snow accumulation season. The Stikine and North Thompson are the only regions with 2024 values higher than the previous year.

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