Snowpack levels near normal

The information is up to date as of March 1, 2014 and shows quite a range in terms of snow accumulation in different regions.

  • Mar. 16, 2014 8:00 p.m.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations River Forecast Centre released its latest information on snow packs this week.

The information is up to date as of March 1, 2014 and shows quite a range in terms of snow accumulation in different regions.

The West Kootenay snowpack is at 96 per cent of normal. Snowpacks in the Upper Fraser are well above normal at 130 per cent, while Vancouver Island  and the South Coast are very low at 53 per cent of normal.

The East Kootenay snowpack is at 98 per cent.

Given the time of year, significant wet weather is required over the next one to two months to recover the snow pack to normal levels in those regions, the report says.

The West Kootenay should have a normal runoff year with the snow pack at almost 100 per cent of normal.

However, conditions at the time of higher elevation runoff can have a huge effect on what actually occurs. Often heavy rains, as witnessed last year in the East Kootenay, add to the problem and are harder to predict.

“It is important to note that snow pack is only one element that influences whether flooding occurs during the spring freshet,” the report says. “Of critical importance are how the snow melts and how much, and when, precipitation is received during the snow melt period.

“Therefore weather during the melt season is the key driver that determines if flooding will occur or not. Heavy snow packs lead to an increased likelihood, or risk, of flooding, however flooding can occur during years with normal snow pack and conversely years with heavy snow pack do not always lead to flooding.“

Meanwhile the Canadian Avalanche Centre is warning of “considerable” danger of avalanche at all elevations through to mid-week in the Purcells, South Rockies and South Columbia.

The weak snow layer covered by up to a metre of newer snow continues to be a concern to forecasters at the Centre. Forecasters warn that conditions are uncertain and every precaution should be taken in the backcountry.