It has been a winter without too much snow thus far in 2014-2015. In fact, the City of Kimberley just this week did its first removal of snow from the downtown area.
It is the job of those at the BC River Forecast Centre to keep track of snow packs in order to keep local, regional and provincial governments informed on what to expect for the spring runoff.
The Centre has just released its first forecast of the season, and no surprise, it is showing less than normal snow packs all around the province.
According to the forecast, East Kootenay snow packs are at 80 per cent of normal. Some areas, like the Okanagan are 90 per cent of normal, while others — South Coast — have only 49 per cent of normal snow accumulation for this time of year. Last year at this time, the Upper Fraser snow pack was 140 per cent of normal. The East Kootenay was 91 per cent of normal.
The report says that early winter 2014-2015 has been characterized by a transition to near El Niño (ENSO) conditions, meaning there could be generally warmer temperatures through out the province, but it likely isn’t a strong enough El Niño to have much effect.
By early January, nearly half of the annual BC snowpack has typically accumulated. At this early stage in the season, there are no indications that any regions of the province are developing increased seasonal flood risk, the report says. Currently observed low snow pack in some regions of the province may be an early indication of the potential for lower than normal stream flow in the spring and summer. However, with three or more months left of snow accumulation, these outlooks could change significantly.
The seasonal forecasts for the interior, Columbia and Kootenay, and the northeast areas of the province do not indicate temperature conditions will vary much beyond seasonal average conditions but do indicate greater than average precipitation is expected through March 2015.
If you look at historical data for the East Kootenay, 2011 was the last year where the snow pack was at 80 per cent. Last year it was at 93 per cent, in 2013, 112 per cent and 2012 at 101 per cent.
The snow pack report will be released on February 9, 2015.