It’s too early to say if B.C. will be hit with another summer of drought, but the latest provincial snowpack reports show some worrying signs.
The May 1st snow survey form the provincial River Forecast Centre says B.C. is a month ahead of schedule when it comes to the amount of snow in B.C.’s mountains, with “extremely warm” April weather chipping away at what had initially appeared to be a healthy snowpack for the year.
“Temperatures continued to be well above normal through the month of April with daily temperatures being 2-4˚C above normal across most of the province, except in the northwest.”
Weak precipitation, particularly in the southern region has contributed to the problem.
“Precipitation in southern BC was well below normal for April, with precipitation amounts typically in the 20-50% of normal range.”
The result? The provincial average for snowpack has dipped to 53% of normal, down from 91% at the beginning of April.
The report adds that of 183 measurements made in the May period, 18% of measuring stations found record lows – some breaking records 50 years old.
“Low and mid-elevation snow is largely gone for all areas of the province with snow remaining only at high elevation.”
On the South Coast, the snowpack has dipped to 78% of normal, down from 101% last month.
The Okanagan is also feeling the heat, dipping to 75% from a healthy 131% in April.
But whether or not the low snowpacks mean we’ll see another drought remains in unclear.
The report says upticks in early season runoff could put added pressure on snow-melt fed rivers systems.
However, it warns early runoff years also tend to be tough to forecast, and that late spring and summer precipitation will likely play a key role in water levels.