Low B.C. snowpack causing concern
B.C.'s unseasonably warm and sunny weather through January and February has resulted in a snowpack so low that the government is already worried about summer drought.
"This is the first time I can remember in my five years as the Minister of Environment where across the province, in every place where we measure, the snow pack is below average," B.C. Environment Minister Barry Penner said Monday.
Weather across B.C. over the past two months was dominated by a moderate to strong El Nino, producing warm and dry conditions.
The El Nino effect occurs when the waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean become unusually warm, which can cause high pressure systems in western Canada and rainy conditions in regions that are usually dry, according to Environment Canada's website.
B.C.'s snow pack varies from about 65 per cent of normal in the East Kootenay to 95 per cent in the North Thompson.
Castelgar in the West Kootenays experienced the lowest February snowfall in 45 years.
If B.C. doesn't get at least average or above normal rainfall this spring there will be drought problems similar to last year, where forest fires devastated parts of the province, Penner said.
"The good news is, for major river systems like the Fraser, it's unlikely that we're going to experience a flood this year. The bad news is there simply isn't much water up there to supply all the needs that we're going to have this summer."
With files from The Canadian Press