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Snowpack across B.C. at 66 per cent of normal

As of May 1 the provincial snowpack is extremely low, averaging 66 per cent of normal across B.C. Last year, the provincial average was 91 per cent.

The Fraser River at Hope snow basin index is well below normal at 63 per cent.

Annual snow accumulation in B.C. typically reaches maximum levels in mid-April; The May 1 survey provides insight into possible late season snow accumulation, the timing of snowmelt onset, and whether melt is early, late, or following seasonal patterns.

Below normal spring freshet flood hazard is expected this season for most of the province due to low snowpack (excluding northern regions). Local flooding from extreme rainfall is possible.

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

The onset of the snowmelt season has been mixed across the province. In low-to-mid elevations, particularly in plateau terrain in the B.C. Interior, early melt of a shallow snowpack has occurred and many of these areas are now snow-free. The Brenda Mine automated snow weather station (ASWS) melted to snow-free conditions sooner than ever recorded in 28 years. Higher elevation mountain snowpack has experienced a delay in melt due to cooler temperatures in late April, and some areas experienced additional late-season snow accumulation during recent unsettled weather periods.

The provincial snowpack increased by three percentage points since April 1 to 66 per cent of normal for May 1. Snow Basin Indices (SBI) for May 1 range from zero per cent of normal in the Upper Fraser West to 171 per cent in the Liard.

Overall, the provincial snowpack remains extremely low for May 1. Increases in Snow Basin Indices since April 1 is largely due to a delay in snowmelt rather a significant increase in snow water equivalent (SWE). Nearly all snow basins are at or below 80 per cent of normal, with extremely low snowpack (<60 per cent) persisting in the Upper Fraser East, Upper Fraser West, Lower Thompson, Quesnel, Nicola, Okanagan, Similkameen, Vancouver Island and Skagit. The only regions with near normal to above normal snow are the Stikine (90 per cent), Northwest (125 per cent) and Liard (171 per cent).

 

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