Kootenay snow pack below average

Snow pack in the West Kootenay is below the usual numbers this year, sitting at 72 per cent of normal

Snow pack in the West Kootenay is below the usual numbers this year, sitting at 72 per cent of normal, according to the B.C. River Forecast Centre.

In a report released earlier this month the region was categorized as having a “moderately low snow pack,” as a result of warmer than seasonal temperatures and low levels of precipitation throughout the month of March. The precipitation that did fall on the West Kootenay region last month consisted mainly of rain rather than snow, contributing to the low 2015 numbers.

Field observations by the River Forecast Centre are mostly done at higher elevations, so the 72 per cent of normal “may not fully reflect the snow pack situation at low to mid-elevation,” says the recording centre.

Other observations show that there is little or no snow pack at low to mid-elevation, or between 800 and 1,100 metres above sea level.

While the Kootenays are showing less snow than previous years, the region is recording snow pack percentages that are sitting well above some other parts of the province, especially the south coast with only 13 per cent of their normal snow pack for this time of year.

The situation won’t be improving at the seasonal cycle moves into spring and summer in B.C. Environment Canada is predicting the higher-than-average temperatures are going to continue into June, melting snow and preventing more from falling and staying on the ground.

With the usual amount of precipitation, combined with high temperatures, the forecast centre reports there has been a big boost in water levels in rivers around the province, but not in the West Kootenay.

The federal Water Office records accumulated precipitation and water levels in rivers across the country. As of April 14, the office recorded 356 mm of accumulated precipitation on the Columbia River at Birchbank Park, an increase of nearly 30 mm over the last month, however the primary water level has gone down from a 5.2 metre high on March 22, down to 3.6 metres on April 14.