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B.C.’s April snowpack lowest recorded since 1970

B.C. officials warn of potential droughts as the province’s snowpack sits at an average of 63 per cent of normal – the lowest recorded in 50 years.

The Kootenays fare slightly better than the provincial average, with the West Kootenay sitting at 72 per cent and the East Kootenay at 76 per cent.

The East Kootenay dropped five percentage points since March while the West Kootenay remained the same.

The province’s annual snowpack levels are the lowest they have been since 1970, and provincial officials are warning of the possibility of more droughts.

“The latest snow survey and water supply bulletin from the River Forecast Centre indicates we may be facing drought conditions in B.C. once again this year,” said Nathan Cullen, Minister of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship.

“The experts at the River Forecast Centre tell us these low levels and the impacts of year-over-year drought are creating significantly higher drought risk for this spring and summer.”

Jonathan Boyd, River Forecast Centre hydrologist the low snowpack can reduce the likelihood of flooding.

“The flood hazard from snow melt is low and it’s especially noticeable for larger water systems,” said Boyd.

However, the risk of floods is still there.

“It is still possible for extreme weather to adverse weather to cause flooding in the spring like sudden and extreme rainfall or persistent periods of heavy rainfall can still cause flooding,” explained Boyd. “This is especially so for small and medium rivers in the Interior. Spring is typically the wet season for the Interior.”

While the province is anticipating severe and prolonged droughts, Boyd said conditions could change unpredictably.

“The causes of drought in B.C. are multi-faceted. While snowpack can play an important role in some areas, other factors such as the rate of snow melt, spring and summer temperatures, and short and long-term precipitation trends may all have equal or greater importance in the emergence of drought this summer,” said Boyd.

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