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.

Just Posted

Cache Creek councillor has committee appointments rescinded

Council also presented with need for roof repairs to Cache Creek fire hall

RCMP conclude investigation into 2017 Elephant Hill wildfire

Files have been turned over to BC Prosecution Service

HUB Online Network finding its feet, documenting the region

New venture already has nearly three dozen videos up on YouTube channel

New support resource in area for women with disabilities

Pacific Dawn will be holding regular meetings in Ashcroft for women with disabilities

Handbell choir looking for new members to learn an old art form

Desert Bells Handbell Choir one of the few four-octave choirs in the province

‘It’s almost surreal’: B.C. fire chief, sidekick Sammy recap rescue mission in Bahamas

Chief Larry Watkinson and Sam the disaster dog spent 8 days assisting a search and rescue team

Vaping-related illness confirmed in Ontario believed to be first in Canada

Middlesex-London Health Unit had no further details about the case — believed to be the first confirmed in Canada

Canadian stars Virtue, Moir say in video they’re ‘stepping away’ from ice dancing

The pair thank fans for their support in an emotional message

Kamloops high school evacuated after receiving threat

Police have not released any further details into what the threat includes

Woman held at gunpoint during carjacking in UBC parkade

University RCMP say the vehicle is still missing, and two suspects are at large

VIDEO: Angry B.C. cyclist starts shaming dangerous drivers online

‘You motorists deserve all your costs and misery’

‘Time to take action:’ Children advocates call for national youth suicide strategy

Council wants Ottawa to make reporting of suicides and attempted suicides mandatory for data collection

Canadian inflation decelerates to 1.9% as gas prices weaken

August was the sixth straight month that price growth was 1.9 per cent or higher

Defense says burden of proof not met in double murder case against Victoria father

Closing statements begin in trial for man accused of killing daughters Christmas 2017

Most Read