Snowpack levels across the province are about typical for February, with the North Thompson a bit above average, the South Thompson a bit below average and no expectation of flooding in the spring, based on the latest numbers.
The Feb. 1 snow survey includes data from 114 manual snow courses and 78 automated snow weather stations around the province. Snow levels range from a low of 63 per cent of normal in the Stikine to a high of 114 per cent of normal in the Upper Fraser West.
The data shows the province has near-normal snowpack as of Feb. 1, with the average of all snow measurements across the province at 97 per cent.
The North Thompson basin is at 112 per cent of normal, while the South Thompson basin is at 89 per cent of normal.
There are no regions of the province with exceptionally high snowpacks.
According to the River Forecast Centre, which collects the data, this year’s snowpack built up
rapidly over a six-week week period from early December to early January. The Arctic airmass that has plunged much of B.C, into extremely cold conditions, with limited snow accumulation, is expected to continue at least into the middle of the month.
The Climate Prediction Center at the U.S. National Weather Service has issued an El Niño watch and is forecasting a high likelihood of El Niño developing through this winter and continuing into the spring.
Typically, El Niño is linked to warmer winters across British Columbia. During El Niño, snowpacks tend to be lower than normal; however, there has been a large range of variability in the snowpack in B.C. during El Niño winters in the past (for example, 2007 was following an El Niño winter and had significant snowpack across the province).
Warm sea surface temperature anomalies have also persisted in the Pacific Ocean off the B.C./Alaska coast, with a general weakening in the anomaly since mid- November. Warm temperature anomalies in the Pacific often have a similar or enhancing effect when they occur in phase with El Niño, as was the case in 2014-2015 and 2015-2016.
Seasonal weather forecasts from Environment and Climate Change Canada have shifted over the past month, with a transition to an increased likelihood of below normal temperatures forecasted over February to April.
On the slopes, as of Feb. 8, Sun Peaks Resort was reporting an alpine snow base of 157 centimetres and a mid-mountain snow base of 117 centimetres. Last year at this time, Sun Peaks had 216 centimetres of snow up top and 167 centimetres at mid-mountain.