It may not be the scorcher it was last year but continued warm spring weather is still leaving its mark, with snowpacks across the province at record lows.
The June Snow Survey and Water Bulletin from the B.C.’s River Forecast Centre says weather in May was about one to two degrees warmer than usual, and the slopes have felt the difference.
Forecast Centre hydrologist Tobi Gardner says the melt is being felt province-wide.
“The provincial average is 23% of normal conditions, and again that reflects early snowmelts in a lot of the basins throughout the province. Historically that is a record low since 1980 for this time of year.”
Gardner says the low level has everything to do with accelerated melts, helped along by the particularly warm March and April, not because of low winter snowfall.
Snowpacks on the Lower Fraser and South Coast are at 21% and 32% percent of normal, up from 9% and 0% last year.
Gardner says the loss of snow on the mountains is having an impact on B.C.’s rivers, with many now showing conditions more typical of July.
“These flows we see now are about four weeks ahead of time, so to speak.”
He says the situation is particularly noticeable on the Fraser.
“So the timing, this is the earliest date in the season that we’ve seen that spring peak level, and it was the second lowest recorded peak.”
The Foreacast Centre says rivers in the interior will feel the strongest effects, and that barring heavy rains, many rivers will now have hit their peak already.
Much of B.C. remains at drought level 2, or “dry,” with Vancouver Island at level three, unchanged from last month.
Metro reservoirs in good shape
Meanwhile in Metro Vancouver officials are sounding a note of cautious optimism about reservoir levels.
The region’s reserves are sitting about 20-billion litres above where they were last year. That’s enough to push them above the “normal” range for this time of year.
North Vancouver Mayor and Chair of Metro Vancouver’s Utilities Committee Darrell Mussatto says its a combination of a snowy winter, rainfall … and people’s behaviour.
“People have consumed less, which is wonderful, our per-capita use is dropping, and we learned from last year. We also have come in with full reservoirs as of June 1st.”
“We’re finding that people have adjusted their behaviour, they’re a little bit more conscious of how much water they use, they are monitoring their water use indoors and have adjusted, which is great, most important though, they’ve learned about outside – that you don’t really need to wate ryour lawn more than once a week.”
But Mussatto says with low snowpacks the district is watching the situation closely.
He says he’s hopeful the region can stay at stage-1 water restrictions through the entire season, but warns the hot months have yet to come, and that people still need to watch their water use.