Low snowpack is less than half normal in southwest B.C.

Brown slopes bust records for lack of snow in parts of Lower Fraser, Vancouver Island

A lack of snow this winter at Hemlock Resort near Agassiz prompted operators to cancel the 2014/15 season without opening.

Snow levels in the mountains of southwestern B.C. are exceptionally low.

And while that’s halted skiing at some hills, it may also mean trouble in the months ahead for local water users and migrating salmon.

The B.C. River Forecast Centre’s latest snow survey shows the Lower Fraser watershed has a snowpack of just 45 per cent of the long-term average and Vancouver Island is even lower at just 15 per cent of normal.

“These are very low for this time of year,” said River Forecast Centre hydrologist Tobi Gardner.

He said the warm winter in the Lower Mainland and some very wet winter storms, followed by a mostly dry and mild February, have conspired to melt much of the lower and mid-elevation snow.

Some specific sampling locations are in record low territory.

Jump Creek, between Nanaimo and Port Alberni on the spine of Vancouver Island, measured no snow at all in the latest snow survey – the first zero reading at this time of year since 1966.

Within the Lower Fraser, Spuzzum Creek at 20 per cent, Wahleach Lake at 26 per cent and the Chilliwack River at 44 per cent are all at or near record low readings. (See charts below.)

Metro Vancouver officials say it’s too soon to predict if a lack of snow will force unusual watering restrictions come June as a conservation measure.

Reservoirs that supply the Metro drinking water system are typically fed not just by melting snow but also significant amounts of rain.

Gardner said there’s potential for low river flow conditions in many areas that could hinder returning salmon and affect other species dependent on aquatic habitat.

As for the potential for flooding of the Fraser in the Lower Mainland, he said it’s too soon to say.

“The flood risk is certainly not increased but I think it’s too early to say there is not a threat.”

That’s because 85 per cent of the volume in the Fraser at Mission during the freshet comes from snow melting hundreds of kilometres away in the mid- and upper Fraser watersheds, both of which are close to normal snowpack levels.

“That whole snowpack has to come out as well,” Gardner said, noting several days of hot spring weather could melt the northern snow fast.

There’s still time for more snow to accumulate in the mountains between now and April when snow levels typically peak.

But Gardner said it appears continued warm weather may result in the runoff of the snowpack from the upper elevations about a month earlier than usual, in late April and May.

Chilliwack River

 

Spuzzum Creek

 

 

 

Wahleach Lake

 

 

Jump Creek (south Vancouver Island)

 

 

Wolf River (mid Vancouver Island)

 

 

 

 

Lack of snow closes Hemlock

Just Posted

Pitt Meadows woman arrested after violent car robbery in Richmond

The woman along with a 28-year-old man from Delta arrested in Vancouver

Four officers at Maple Ridge’s regional prison charged with assault

Case in Port Coquitlam court adjourned until February.

Medical causes behind death in Memorial Peace Park

Happened early Saturday in downtown

People asked to report any cougar sightings in east Maple Ridge

WildsafeBC asks people to keep attractants in

Pitt Meadows council allows electronic attendance

Members of the public opposed, veteran councillors say change is not new

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Speaker Darryl Plecas’ report details ‘flagrant overspending’

B.C. man fined $10,000 after leaving moose to suffer before death

Surrey man was convicted last week on three Wildlife Act charges

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

South Surrey mother didn’t have the intent to kill her daughter: defence

Closing submissions in case of Lisa Batstone underway

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

Parole granted for drunk driver who killed B.C. RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

Most Read