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

City of Enderby issues flood caution reminder

Rain in Sunday weather forecast could increase water levels and flow

Rain in Sunday forecast for Okanagan-Shuswap

Environment Canada calling for 15-20 millimetres in regions

Salmon Arm man reported missing by RCMP has been found unharmed

Ken Derkach apologizes for having caused anyone concern

Preparations for flooding in the Shuswap accelerate

A sandbagging machine and a crew to run it have been set up in Silver Creek.

Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Okanagan, Shuswap

Environment Canada is forecasting strong wind gusts, large hail and heavy downpours in parts of the Interior

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of the world of summer sports

In a typical year, there are plenty of summer sporting events and tournaments held across Canada

PHOTOS: Okanagan residents capture epic lightning show

A look at some of the best shots of the storm on May 30

Big White Ski Resort to offer rebate for pass holders after early closure

Next year’s pass will include a 20 per cent rebate

‘No tick is a good tick’: Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation

The foundation’s president said all ticks that attach to humans and pets can carry various diseases

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Feds earmark $1.5M to support recovery of B.C., Indigenous tourism

B.C. money will be split between Vancouver Island and Indigenous tourism

‘We’re sick of it’: Anger over police killings shatters U.S.

Tens of thousands marched to protest the death of George Floyd

Arena served Summerland for 26 years

Warm winters meant short ice seasons in early 1950s

District offers safety tips after cougar spotted near Lake Country school

The animal was seen on a walking trail near Peter Greer Elementary Saturday morning

Most Read