BC snowfall varies widely

Sub Levels

The Boundary Basin, Okanagan Basin, Nikola Basin, Liard Basin, and Northwest Basin in British Columbia experienced significantly higher than normal snowfall.

Snowfall data for May 1, released earlier this week by the BC River Forecasting Center, showed the state had 91% of its normal snowfall, with a few exceptions. Data is collected from 97 manual snow courses and 97 automatic snow weather stations across the state.

Temperatures in April were below normal in much of the state, but sudden warmer temperatures in late April and early May caused a rapid thaw.

Another high-pressure ridge is expected to affect the state over the weekend of May 13-14.

The Liard Basin was 233% of normal and the Northwest Basin was 126% of normal.

The Nicola Basin is 150 percent of normal, the Okanagan Basin is 144 percent of normal, and the Boundary Basin is 129 percent of normal.

In addition, 87 percent of normal in the Middle Fraser Basin compared to 171 percent of normal in the Lower Thompson Subbasin in the region.

The Skagit Basin received the least amount of snow in the state, at 47% of normal.

A report from the BC River Forecasting Center says flooding is a risk every spring, but areas with higher than normal snowfall are at greater risk of flooding this year.

“In general, the most common cause of major spring flooding in British Columbia is a period of cool temperatures and wet weather throughout the spring, followed by sudden heat waves lasting at least five days,” the report said. Says. “The onset of this year’s widespread thaw was triggered by this type of extreme heat that occurred in late April and early May.”

The danger of flooding from melting snow is expected to continue for the next few weeks. With the snow cover gone, heavy rains are the main cause of flood hazards.

Snow cover is one factor in flood risk, but it’s not the only factor, says the Center for River Forecasting. Spring and early summer weather can affect the timing and rate of thaw.

Areas with less snow than usual may experience flooding, but heavy snowfall does not necessarily mean flooding.

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