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

Duo robs Harrison Hot Springs gas station

Husky manager planning to tighten security

Snow prayers answered as Manning Park ski hill opens Friday

Ski hill will be open seven days a week starting Dec. 14, and cross-country trails as well

Fleeing driver picks fight with Chilliwack police dog, loses

Good dog ‘Griff’ also locates large quantity of what police believe to be crystal meth in Abbotsford

UPDATE: Heavy rainfall, strong winds in forecast for Lower Mainland

Heavy rains, snow expected till Friday morning

VIDEO: Sto:lo artist and UFV instructors create award-winning gingerbread house

Chilliwack team wins Vancouver competition with Coast Salish design, solid recipe and laser cuts

MAP: Christmas light displays in the Lower Mainland

Send us pictures of your National Lampoon-style lit-up homes, nativity scenes or North Pole playlands

Family searching for B.C. professor last seen at Colombian salsa club

Ramazan Gencay, a professor in economics at Simon Fraser University, was last seen in Medellin

Rash of bomb threats a learning opportunity for response capacity, Goodale

Thursday’s wave of bomb threats swept across communities on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border

Swap food for fines at Fraser Valley Regional Library

From Dec. 14 through Jan. 22, library patrons can “pay” their fines while helping local food banks

Mike Duffy can’t sue Senate over suspension without pay, judge rules

Duffy’s lawsuit sought more than $7.8 million from the upper chamber

Surrey mayor says city won’t repay $56M spent on LRT, but might pony up $40M in land transfers

There will be no tax increase for Surrey residents resulting from this, McCallum confirms

Language on Sikh extremism in report will be reviewed, Goodale says

A public-safety ministry document indicats terrorist threats to Canada included a section on Sikh extremism for the first time

Questions raised over retailers who shame shoplifters with photos

Alleged theft from a sex shop in Newfoundland led to posts on social media

Most Read