Flood risks are low in the South Okanagan this spring, but the below average snowpack could make for a drier summer, according to recent data from the B.C. River Forecast Centre.
“At this stage in the season, there is no elevated flood risk present in the current snowpack across the province,” reads a report called “Snow Survey and Water Supply Bulletin – May 1, 2019.”
Snowpack in the Similkameen is well-below normal at 52 per cent of normal, while the Okanagan snowpack is below normal at 69 per cent of normal.
Another factor to the low flood risk is the difference between low-to-mid elevation and upper elevation snow, the report says, “Particularly through the south Interior, snow below 1,600 metres has almost completely disappeared as of early May.”
This trend is two to three weeks ahead of when these regions would normally be free of snow — almost setting a record.
The peak freshet or winter thaw season is expected to arrive in watersheds, including Mission Creek near Kelowna and the Similkameen River around Princeton, within the next week or two, the report says.
David Campbell, head of B.C.’s River Forecast Centre, said less snow this spring could put more pressure on the rivers, which are fed by melting snow.
“The irrigation coming out of the rivers can be more of an issue when we get into July or August,” he said. “It’s quite a bit less snow overall than we’ve seen in the last two years where we have had quite an abundance of snow and some issues related to that.”
But he warns that flooding could still result from heavy rain or rainstorms instead.
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Reporter, Penticton Western News
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