The BC River Forecast Centre has released its monthly information on snow pack accumulation and, as one would expect after recent warm weather, snow packs remain below normal for almost the entire province.
In the East Kootenay, the snow pack is at 80 per cent of normal, although that will vary throughout the region as some areas received more of what snow did fall during January.
Temperatures across British Columbia continued to be well above normal through the month of January. Temperatures were generally 2-4°C above normal, with the largest temperature anomalies occurring in the Central Interior and northern British Columbia. January sea surface temperature anomalies in the Pacific Ocean off the shores of British Columbia have continued to be several degrees above normal.
January precipitation trends have been varied across the province. Vancouver Island, South Coast, and Kootenays experienced below normal precipitation. Above normal precipitation occurred in the Okanagan, Interior, Central Coast and Northwest BC. With increased temperatures, particularly on Vancouver Island and south-west BC, rainfall was the dominant form of precipitation through mid-elevation terrain, the report says.
Vancouver Island, the Lower Fraser and Skagit Basins have received the least amount of snow with Skagit having only 12 per cent of average accumulation and the Island, 33 per cent.
Two-thirds of the province’s annual snow pack has usually been accumulated by this time of year and the report concludes that it is unlikely snow packs will recover significantly unless there is much higher than normal precipitation,which is not forecast.
The report says the outlook for the rest of the winter is for more of the same, weather-wise.
Warm Pacific Ocean temperatures and weak El Niño-like conditions are expected to persist into the spring. These will likely drive continued warmer than average temperatures, particularly along coastal sections of the province. Environment Canada is forecasting a high likelihood of above normal temperatures over the February to April period across British Columbia.
This means low flows will persist throughout the summer especially in areas where the snow pack is 40 percent less than normal.