This is an open letter to Shaun Reimer, lake level controller, and Kim Hyatt, section head, regional ecosystem, for Fsheries and Ocean Canada.
Your upcoming investigation into the massive Okanagan flooding of 2017 needs to focus on mountain snowpack. Big White, Silver Star and Apex all suffered marginal alpine snow conditions throughout December, January and February. None received a full alpine base until early March.
From then on, it snowed continuously into May.
On April 17, closing day at Big White, the depth of snow recorded was 336 centimetres, Normal would be 140 to 170 centimetres.
This may be an all time record for that date. A further 40 to 45 centimetres fell between April 18 and the first week of May, with little to no melt due to low temperatures.
Snow coming later and lasting longer is a climate change trend and why U.S. ski resorts have adjusted to opening later and staying open longer for past the 10 to 15 years. Anybody can easily monitor the mountain snowpack from home or office. Just Google “Big White daily snow report.” It tells you the snow depth that day and how much new snow fell overnight.
There are nine mountain webcams giving you bird’s eye view of mountains in real time.
Anyone can sign up to receive a daily e-mail snow report from Big White, Silver Star and Apex.
Monitoring the Okanagan mountain snowpacks and lowering lakes accordingly in a timely fashion are crucial to preventing another catastrophic Okanagan flood.