Low snowpack may bring summer water woes
A warmer than average winter may lead to water supply "challenges" this summer in British Columbia, a bulletin from the provincial government warned Monday.
In a water supply outlook, the Ministry of Environment said only 80 per cent of the expected snowpack is built up on B.C. mountains -- and there is only four to six weeks of winter left to accumulate additional snow.
Snowpacks in all major B.C. river basins are below normal levels, from a low of 65 per cent of normal in the East Kootenay basin to a high of 95 per cent of normal in the North Thompson.
Minister Barry Penner said even though cooler temperatures and lower freezing levels forecast this week are good news, the low snowpack in much of the Interior, including the Okanagan and Kootenays, could signal drought problems in the summer.
Current snow conditions in the South Interior – Okanagan, Nicola, Kettle, Similkameen and South Thompson – suggest the potential to bring back the drought conditions that persisted in 2009 -- a season rife with wildfires.
Penner said rainfall levels in these areas must be at normal or above-normal levels in April, May and June to avoid problems in these areas.
There is some good news. The likelihood of below-normal runoff during the spring may decrease the flood risk in major river basins, including Fraser, Thompson, Skeena, Nass and Peace.