Snowpacks well above average for time of year, but too early to predict spring floods

Osoyoos Times – February 13, 2018

Accumulation of snow in January has pushed snowpack levels well above normal for this time of year, but it’s too early to say whether this could cause spring flooding.

The Okanagan Basin is at 131 per cent of normal and the Similkameen is at 135 per cent of normal, according to Feb. 1 figures released last Wednesday by the B.C. River Forecast Centre.

That’s much higher than a year ago when the Okanagan was at 78 per cent of normal and the Similkameen was at 74 per cent and there were fears of a dry spring. Instead, there was flooding last spring.

“At this time of year, it’s anyone’s guess,” said Anna Warwick Sears, executive director of the Okanagan Basin Water Board. “It’s not like it’s a completely unpredictable situation, but it’s one that could change.”

She points to graphs showing snow pillow development at Mission Creek and Brenda Mines near Kelowna considerably more snowpack than last year, but the graphs are still far from their peak, which tends to be in April.

“We’re still nowhere near peak snowpack yet,” she said, adding that weather forecasts predict a cooler than average spring with higher than average precipitation.

By early February, nearly two thirds of the annual B.C. snowpack has typically accumulated.

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