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Record snow melt keeps river levels a month ahead of schedule

May 24, 2016 - 4:30 PM

THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - An extremely warm spring has led to record snow melt in the high elevations of Southern Interior mountains.

As of mid-May, B.C.'s snowpack looked more like mid-June, according to the B.C. River Forecast Centre. This has heavily impacted the rivers throughout the province as well, with flows up to four weeks ahead of expected levels.

The provincial average snowpack was at a record low for the May 15 measurement, with almost all regions below 60 per cent of seasonal normal levels and not a single one at normal levels. The North Thompson, South Thompson and Upper Columbia regions were the closest to typical with 70 to 86 per cent normal snow pack levels reported. Similkameen was at just 12 per cent while the Okanagan was reporting snowpacks at 35 per cent. 

Most rivers have hit peak flow and are now receding, along with the risk of flooding, the forecast centre notes. However, peak freshet levels could still be on the way for the South Thompson and Upper Columbia Rivers.

Because snow melt is a month ahead of schedule the centre expects rivers will be below average volume throughout the summer unless there are major rainstorms.

April's warm weather began the early snow melt, which continued through May. 

For more on the snow melt and river levels, click here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Brendan Kergin or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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