Mount Cheam in B.C.’s eastern Fraser Valley. (Wikimedia Commons)

High snowpack could lead to floods in wildfire-ravaged B.C. interior

Provincial snowpack sits at 127 per cent as of April 1

A higher-than-usual snowpack in April could lead to increased flooding risk in B.C.’s wildfire-ravaged interior, officials say.

River Forecast Centre hydrologist Jonathan Boyd said this winter’s snowpack sits at 127 per cent – 32 percentage points higher than last winter’s.

“The provincial average was 123 per cent of normal in 2012 … and there was considerable flooding throughout the province,” Boyd told reporters Monday.

Areas like the Okanagan and Similkameen, where the snowpack sits at a record-breaking 152 per cent, could be at risk for higher flooding. The risk for anything above 135 per cent is extreme.

“Last year in the Okanagan, the snowpack was 105 per cent of normal, but the lake still experienced record inflows,” Boyd said.

A higher-than-normal flood risk is expected in the centre’s Cariboo Chilcotin, Thompson Okanagan, west coast and Kootenay Boundary regions, where wildfires burned hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest last summer.

The risk comes as fires burn away trees that provide shade and allow for slower melting.

Heavy melts in those regions could lead to riverbank erosion, as well as damage to dikes.

“Due to the fires, there’ll be a lot more debris in rivers going downstream … which can lead to erosion along banks and dykes,” Boyd said.

However, he cautioned that snowpacks were only one facet of flood risk.

“Weather patterns during the snow melt season play a critical role in weather or not flooding occurs,” he added.

“Intense or prolonged rainfall or extreme temperatures are important factors that can lead to flooding even in areas with a normal snowpack.”

B.C. spent most of this past winter under La Nina conditions, which tend to be cooler and accumulate more precipitation for B.C.’s southern half.

The April snowpack statistics are important, he said, because 95 per cent of the snowpack for the year has already accumulated.

However, with this year’s La Nina conditions, snow could continue to pile up throughout April and May.

“Snow basin indices tend to increase by two to five per cent in April,” said Boyd.

Snowmelt in B.C. typically begins in mid- to late-April.

Just Posted

It’s the last day to vote in B.C.’s referendum on electoral reform

Ballots must now be dropped off in person to meet the deadline of 4:30 p.m.

North Coast First Nation chief says one major oil spill could ruin economy forever

Chief Marilyn Slett of Heiltsuk Nation near Bella Bella is leading a delegation in Ottawa this week

How to decide what to vote for in B.C.’s referendum on electoral reform

Ballots are due at Elections BC on Friday, Dec. 7, at 4:30 p.m.

Northern Health investigates racist posts of possible employee

Facebook comments call for segregated health authorities

Lawyer for Chinese exec detained by Canada says it’s ‘inconceivable’ she would flee

Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of the U.S. during a layover at the Vancouver airport

Omar Khadr to ask for Canadian passport to travel, permission to speak to sister

He spent years in U.S. detention at Guantanamo Bay after he was caught when he was 15

One of Tori Stafford’s killers transferred to medium-security prison

Michael Rafferty was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 in the kidnapping, sexual assault and first-degree murder of Tori Stafford

‘Abhorrent’ condition of autistic B.C. boy shows flaws in care system: report

‘Charlie’ was underweight and ‘covered in feces’ when he was removed from his mom’s care

Military closes book on oft-criticized support unit for ill, injured troops

The transition unit will provide support and services to military members struggling with physical and mental injuries so they can return to work.

Vancouver Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson named NHL’s first star of the week

Canucks centre scored two goals and six assists in three games

Protester says Canada doing U.S. ‘dirty work’ outside Huawei exec’s bail hearing

The U.S. wants to extradite Meng to face fraud allegations after Canada arrested the high-profile technology executive.

Break-in at home of detained Chinese Huawei executive

Meng Wanzhou was detained in Vancouver on America’s request

Most Read