Whistler snowpacks down by 43 per cent 

Low snowpack means spring floods unlikely says B.C. River Forecast Centre

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Snowfall this season is 43 per cent lower than an average winter but officials with the River Forecast Centre said it's too early to be concerned about drought in the coming months.

The current shortage of snow is consistent with a 10- to 15-year low-snow trend observed by the Centre, the provincial office that tracks snowpack and stream flow. The last time the snowpack for the Whistler area was this low was back in 2005.

Dave Campbell, the River Forecast Centre manager, said it is unlikely that we will rebound to normal snowpack levels by the end of this season.

"A combination of really dry conditions since the start of the typical snow accumulations season has persisted through the season so we have seen very low snowpacks," said Campbell.

The snow water equivalent collected at the Callaghan Creek station, which has faithfully been collecting weather data for the river forecast centre for the last 30 years, is 552 millimetres. At this time last year that figure was 638 millimetres.

The small amount of snow in the mountains isn't causing any drought concerns at this point because, Campbell said, snowpack plays only a small role in feeding Sea to Sky streams. A bigger influencer for stream levels is the rainfall that takes place through the spring months and into early summer.

"There's not much time left in the accumulation season," said Campbell.

This means the traditionally tame spring-melt in the Sea to Sky corridor is further reduced so Campbell said there's little concern of spring flooding in the regional watershed systems.

"When you look along the Sea to Sky corridor those systems tend to see their biggest flows and flood conditions during the fall and winter flood events so from that perspective the flood risk in general just isn't that high," he said.

He warned that things can change quickly and noted the forecast is calling for a series of storms over the next few days.


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