March's lack of rain, snow in Thompson-Okanagan could be record setting | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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March's lack of rain, snow in Thompson-Okanagan could be record setting

March 30, 2021 - 7:00 PM

A normally dry month appears to be headed to end on an even drier note this year as snowpack levels declined in the southern Interior of British Columbia through March.

Environment Canada meteorologist Armel Castellan says precipitation amounts in Kamloops and the Okanagan so far in March put it into the top ten category for the driest on record.

“Looking at winter from November onward, we are certainly looking at a dry trend overall and that continued in March," Castellan says.

January and February were drier than normal for Kamloops, Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton and it looks as though March is going to follow that trend.

"The normal for Kamloops is 12.8 mm and they only have one millimetre so far. There’s still today and tomorrow, for a shower or two, but that should definitely be in the top ten for driest March,” Castellan says.

Kelowna has had 12 per cent of the rain and snow that usually falls this month, Vernon comes in at 7.1 per cent of normal while Penticton has had 19.5 per cent of the norm. Castellan says those Okanagan cities only received a "handful of millimetres of precipitation."

There’s a strong possibility Kelowna will end the month as driest on record.

March is normally quite dry as a rule, Castellan says, but this year’s freshet and wildfire potential will also have a lot to do with how the next three months shape up.

“Of course, then it has everything to do with how wet and cold it is into mid-May and June. It’s an evolving story we’ll be keeping an eye on for the next little while,” he says.

Data from the River Forecast Centre indicates snowpack levels have dropped in the Thompson and Okanagan watersheds between March 1 and March 22, with the following levels reported:

  • Okanagan snowpack was at 115 per cent, March 1, but measured 105 per cent on March 22.
  • South Thompson snowpack was 106 per cent, March 1, down to 100 per cent on March 22.
  • North Thompson snowpack was 113 per cent, March 1, down to 102 per cent March 22.

Castellan says says the next River Forecast Centre’s April snowpack report, due April 9, is considered the “gold standard“ for defining winter’s impact on the spring freshet.

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