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Summer watering restrictions likely as province records average lowest snowpack levels in 31 years

Rose Valley reservoir near West Kelowna. The Okanagan and Similkameen regions have recorded record low snowpack measurements.
May 08, 2015 - 11:33 AM

THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - The lastest snowpack measurements from the provincial government’s river forecast centre are showing record low levels in some areas including the Okanagan and Similkameen regions.

Without substantial rain in the next couple of months, reservoirs across the region will also be lower than normal, likely leading to water use restrictions in many communities during the summer.

The Snow Survey and Water Supply bulletin from the B.C. River Forecast Centre notes temperatures have been above average throughout April, which is typically the last chance for snowpacks to gather any accumulation. After that, they start to shrink.

Snow basin measurements in the Central and Southern Interior regions are all below normal, with lows of 57 per cent for the Okanagan and 37 per cent for the Similkameen. The Middle Fraser region did not reach a record low but is still down to 68 per cent of normal. The provincial average is 69 per cent, the lowest in 31 years.

The South Thompson region is proving to be the exception with snowpack at 81 per cent of normal for this time of year, and snow indices in the Thompson River basin at close to average conditions.

Environment Canada is predicting a strong chance of above normal temperatures from now until the end of July, which will only put more pressure on local reservoirs.

Runoff from the spring freshet are predicted to be 71 to 74 per cent of normal for the Okanagan basin and 33 to 42 per cent of normal for the Kalmalka-Wood basin.

While the northern part of the province has seen above average precipitation in April, the Southern Interior, South Coast and Vancouver Island range from 17 per cent to 75 per cent of average as measured by Environment Canada.

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at jmcdonald@infonews.ca or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
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