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BC's snowpack still low but it is melting slower than last year

BC’s snowpack is lower than it was this time last year, but the province says the snow melt has been slower.

The Snow Survey and Water Supply Bulletin issued on Thursday provides a mid-month update on the seasonal snowmelt process, the province says.

According to the bulletin, 31% of the peak snowpack has melted so far, which has been “driven by low elevation melt” last month.

According to the bulletin, on average, 17% of the snowpack has melted by May 15.

However, this year’s snow melt is slower than last year when 43% of the snowpack had melted by mid-May.

That has resulted in a low flood hazard this spring, despite the hotter temperatures from May 9-12, the bulletin says.

“The greatest flood risk over the upcoming six weeks is from widespread heavy rain events,” the bulletin explains.

“Low snowpack, early snowmelt and lingering impacts from on-going drought are creating significantly elevated drought hazards for this upcoming spring and summer.”

<who> Photo Credit: Snow Survey and Water Supply Bulletin

As of May 15, the provincial snowpack is sitting at 57%, which is down nearly 10% from the beginning of the month.

According to the bulletin, all regions, except the Stikine, have below to well-below normal (below 75%) May 15th snow basin indices.

The Stikine basin in the northwest is sitting at 101% of normal.

In the Interior, the North Thompson and South Thompson are at 67 and 74% of normal, respectively. The basin near Quesnel is sitting at 38% of normal.

The Boundary region is at 74% of normal while the Okanagan and Similkameen are at 49% and 46% of normal, respectively.

Vancouver Island, which has seen consistently low snowpack levels all winter, is sitting at 34% of normal levels for mid-May.

The bulletin says the low snowpack levels, rapid snow melt and low amounts of rain are expected to contribute to ongoing drought this summer.

“This season continues to have increased hazards of drought due to long-term precipitation deficits, low snowpack, early snowmelt, and an increased likelihood of warmer than normal spring and summer weather,” the bulletin says.

“Weather will continue to play an important role in summer drought conditions.”

The next bulletin is the second last. It will show levels for June 1 and will be issued on June 10.

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