Spring rain needed as B.C. sees one of the lowest snowpack levels in 40 years

Snowpack levels in B.C. recorded on May 15 were similar to those in 2015 and 2016

Drought forecasts from Agriculture Canada show most of British Columbia is abnormally dry or enduring some level of drought, similar to dry conditions that are being experienced across a swath of Western Canada.

Snowpack levels in B.C. recorded on May 15 were similar to those in 2015 and 2016 and the B.C. River Forecast Centre says they are among the lowest in the last 40 years.

READ MORE: Low B.C. snowpacks reduce flood risk, hike chance of summer droughts

It also says diminished snowpacks and early snow melt due to a warm spring increase the likelihood of low flows in rivers and streams across the province this summer.

As much as 60 per cent of the snowpack has already melted at most sites, compared to no more than 25 per cent during a usual season, and in areas where the snow is gone, such as northeast B.C., data shows river flows are already ebbing to “below normal.”

A drought map published by Agriculture Canada on April 30 showed abnormally dry conditions in parts of southern Manitoba and Saskatchewan, as well as in southern and northwest Alberta including where the Chuckegg Creek fire was burning out of control near High Level.

Rain in May and June will help in B.C., but the river centre says seasonal forecasts from Environment Canada predict above-normal temperatures in late spring and early summer across western B.C., and there is no sign of cooler, wetter weather in other regions.

READ MORE: Thunderstorms to bring heavy rain, risk of flash floods in the southern Interior

Agriculture Canada’s drought map showed patches of severe drought surrounding Terrace and along the Alaska Panhandle. There were moderate drought conditions in effect across Haida Gwaii, large sections of Vancouver Island and most of northeastern and southern B.C.

Low snowpacks and existing dry conditions similar to 2015 and 2016 raise concerns about drought or wildfires but Dave Campbell of the river forecast centre says everything depends on conditions over the next several weeks.

“The rain can make up the difference and we’ve seen that in 2015 when we saw these really low snowpacks but a fairly wet summer, and that was able to make up the difference,” he says.

Scant spring rain in 2016 put much more pressure on water availability, says Campbell, although the B.C. Wildfire Service website shows 2016 was considered a “below average” season for fire starts and land burned, while 2015 was recorded as a major season.

Dry conditions have already prompted the first campfire ban of the 2019 wildfire season.

The wildfire service has announced burning prohibitions throughout the northwest fire centre, starting at noon on Friday. Bans on open burning are also posted for the Prince George and Cariboo fire centres.

All the restrictions are in effect until further notice. (The Canadian Press, CHNL)

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

The Murdochs: Fast Track to Hockey Stardom

Every Canadian hockey story, like that of the Murdochs of Cranbrook, seems to start in the backyard

Farm life: Planning and preserving, a time of transition

Over the coming weeks many plants will be pulled from my garden and replaced with cool weather crops

Crews, aircraft responding to wildfire eight kilometres west of Cranbrook

Crews and air support are responding to a wildfire eight kilometres west… Continue reading

Local shares his story of life and death on the St. Mary’s River

Aric Keane hopes sharing his story will show that even with experience, the river can be dangerous

Health care priorities debated following surprise funding announcement

Surprise provincial funding stirs debate on local health care priorities during regional meeting

STANDING TALL: For some, B.C.’s forest industry is the best office in the world

A look at the forest sector in B.C. – and those hoping for the best – amid mill curtailments

Royal B.C. Museum wants B.C.’s COVID-19 nature observations

COVID-19 Collecting For Our Time: ongoing project cataloguing province’s pandemic experience

Feds offer ‘life preserver’ funds to BC Ferries as pandemic sinks revenue

For every dollar the province spends the federal government will match

Bad behaviour at B.C. restaurants ignites campaign calling for respect

“If you can’t follow the rules, then stay home,” says BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association

Over half of Americans oppose Trump tariff on Canadian aluminum: survey

The survey was conducted Aug. 7 to 9 among 1,513 Canadians and 1,003 Americans

Oh baby, what a birthday gift: $2.8M raised to help B.C. boy with rare disease

‘We are very thankful to everybody,’ Aryan Deol’s father says

‘Huckleberry’ the bear killed after B.C. residents admit to leaving garbage out for videos

North Shore Black Bear Society said it was local residents who created a ‘death sentence’ for bear

Police investigating after insults, expletives yelled at federal minister’s staff

A 90-second video circulating on social media appears to have been shot by the person who was yelling

5 B.C. First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

West Coast nations say government ignoring court-won right to chinook and coho

Most Read