Okanagan snowpack near normal

River Forecast Centre said much of the snow has accumulated over recent weeks

It’s business as usual for snowpack levels in the Okanagan.

According to data released by the River Forecast Centre Tuesday, the Okanagan snow basin index is at 94 per cent of normal as of Jan. 1. However, much of that 94 per cent has accumulated over recent weeks.

“Early season snowpack was slow to develop this year, with near record low snowpack being observed at automated snow weather stations on Dec. 1,” the Centre said in a statement. “Rapid snow accumulation has occurred since mid-December in the wake of numerous storm events that have impacted the province. Much of the current snowpack has developed over the past four weeks.”

Related: High Okanagan 2018 snowpack caused increased flood risk

Related: 2018 snowpack level increases Okanagan Lake dam discharge

With the high likelihood of an El Niño weather pattern developing this winter, the River Forecast Centre said that snowpack levels will likely be lower than normal, though there has been considerable variances in snowpack levels during past El Niño winters.

“Seasonal weather forecasts from Environment and Climate Change Canada are indicating an increased likelihood of warmer than normal temperatures through the winter period,” the Centre said. “By early January, nearly half of the annual B.C. snowpack has typically accumulated. At this early stage in the season snow accumulation is looking typical across the province. With three or more months left for snow accumulation, seasonal snowpacks can still change significantly.”

A new calculation method was implemented for January’s snow survey and water supply bulletin. The River Forecast Centre said the new method is more consistent, better utilizes all snow measurements taken during a survey period and reduces the bias created from extremely high or low per cent of normal values at individual survey locations. The Centre is re-analyzing historic snow basin index values with this new method to allow for comparison.

The Centre will provide an updated seasonal flood risk forecast in February.


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