Snowpack at traditional levels

There’s snow in them thar hills—quite a contrast from last year at this time.

There’s snow in them thar hills—quite a contrast from last year at this time.

Instead of concerns about the lack of snow leading to a second drought year in the Okanagan, at some locations around the valley, there’s actually more snow than normal.

For instance, near McCulloch Lake, the amount of snow measured at the beginning of this month was nine per cent above normal, while in the Trout Creek watershed in the hills above Summerland, there was 18 per cent more than normal.

On the other hand, there was only 68 per cent of the normal amount in the Oyama watershed, but 90 per cent in the Postill Lake area.

One of the valley’s most significant watersheds, in the upper Mission Creek area, there is 86 per cent of the normal amount of snow for this time of year, while across the lake, in the Brenda Mines area, there is 92 per cent of normal.

In the hills above West Kelowna, there’s 87 per cent of the normal amount of snow, measured as a snowwater equivalent.

At this time of year, the depth of snow is measured at particular sites all around the valley to try and estimate the amount of runoff there will be in the coming months as it melts and runs into water reservoirs.

Overall, Luanne Chew, a forecast hydrologist with the province’s River Forecast Centre, says there is slightly less than the normal amount of snow in the watersheds of the Okanagan.

She estimates that by this time in winter, about two-thirds of the season’s accumulation of snow has already fallen, but the picture can still change as spring approaches.

It’s a considerable improvement over last year, when there were grave concerns about a continued drought. Rainfall in May and June drowned those concerns.ownacapnews.com