Warm weather says winter's over

As spring replaces winter, showers replace snow, beginning in the valley bottom. However, there
As spring replaces winter, showers replace snow, beginning in the valley bottom. However, there's still lots of snow at higher elevations.
— image credit: judie Steeves/Capital News


Judie Steeves

staff reporter

Although the last month has been pretty dry in the valley bottom, there’s plenty of snow at most higher elevations around the Okanagan and a rise in temperatures suggests spring might now be here.

Winter’s temperatures were actually very slightly above normal, at an average of -.7 C, compared to the normal of -.8 C according to meteorologist Doug Lundquist with Environment Canada.

Overall, winter’s precipitation in the valley bottom was actually below average, with 68 millimetres, compared to the average of 90 mm.

However, up in the headwaters of Mission Creek there is plenty of the white stuff left and there will be for some months to come.

The April 1 measurement of snowpack in that location is 16 per cent above normal, while at the Oyama Lake snowcourse it’s two per cent above normal and at Postill Lake it’s eight per cent above normal.

Across the lake, there’s less snow, with the lowest amount measured at Islaht Lake, above West Kelowna, where it’s only 65 per cent of normal. However, the higher-level Whiterocks snowcourse measurement was 96 per cent of normal.

At Brenda Mine, it’s 83 per cent of normal, while at nearby MacDonald Lake, it was 82 per cent of normal.

Further north on the Westside, the measurements in different locations on Esperon Creek varied from 80 per cent to 88 per cent of normal.

It’s expected that by April 1, about 95 per cent  of the province’s annual snowpack has accumulated for the season, so that is considered to be a key snow measurement in predicting the amount of spring runoff to expect. Seasonal water supply in areas like the Okanagan are dependent on water stored from runoff, and flood risk is also assessed based on snowpack measurements.

David Campbell, section head for the River Forecast Centre, says near normal runoff is expected in the Okanagan basin.

However, in basins like the Fraser, Columbia, Kootenay and Peace residents have been warned to prepare for an increased flood risk in May or June because of heavier than normal snow accumulations.

Lundquist says any winter impacts of La Nina (although it didn’t really have much impact in the Okanagan) are neutral now, or La Nada.

A survey of forecasts from a number of countries suggests that the probability of another La Nina this coming winter is lower than that this winter would continue to be La Nada, or nothing, or that the coming winter would be impacted by El Nino conditions.

The latter is considered more likely, he said. El Nino winters tend to be milder than normal in this part of the world.

The forecast for the next couple of weeks is for a continuation of above-normal temperatures as a flow of mild air from California impacts our weather.

Although there was more rain in March than normal, most of that fell in the first two weeks, while the past month has been dry, and Lundquist expects that tendency will continue.


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