The Mission Creek Snow Pillow (elevation 1780m) had a technical problem this year, and will not be operational until it is repaired in the summer. This is very unfortunate, as Mission Creek provides 25 – 30% of the water to the Okanagan Basin, and we rely heavily on the snow pillow measurements to predict potential flooding and water shortages related to snowpack volume. The B.C. River Forecast Centre will be adding more manual snow survey measurements to partly compensate for the loss of the snow pillow information, but there will inevitably be a loss of accuracy for inflow modeling. The OBWB created an excellent short film on snow pillows and snow surveys (here) – using footage from the 2017 River Film. The other two snow pillows we use are Brenda Mines and Silver Star.
The BC River Forecast Centre releases monthly snow reports, giving their best estimate of snow volumes, beginning January 10th, the day of the OBWB meeting.
Based on the limited data we have right now, it looks like we are beginning the year with above average snow at Brenda Mine, and about average snow at Silver Star. Note that the Silver Star record is more erratic looking because they have only been collecting data in this location since 2015.
Environment Canada’s seasonal forecast provides an “equal chance” for either above or below normal temperature or precipitation, but the U.S. NOAA Climate Prediction Center forecasts continued above-normal precipitation and below-normal temperature for the remainder of the winter – consistent with the continued La Niña ocean conditions in the Pacific. La Niña is expected to transition to neutral conditions by March 2023.
Brenda Mine snow pillow – elevation 1460 m. Current year given in dark blue.
Silver Star snow pillow – elevation 1840 m. Current year given in dark blue.