British Columbia·Video

2018 was historically bad. What should B.C. brace for this flood season?

When river forecasters look at the upcoming flood season, they ask a few key questions — how much snow is in the mountains? How much rain will fall? How hot will it get?

The B.C. government spent $162 million in flood emergency response efforts last year

Flooding in downtown Grand Forks, B.C. in May, 2018. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

When river forecasters look at the upcoming flood season, they ask a few key questions — how much snow is in the mountains? How much rain will fall? How hot will it get?

Keeping tabs on snowpack levels is fairly straightforward but predicting the weather is always a wildcard.

That's why River Forecast Centre spokesperson David Campbell says it's tough to accurately predict what the 2019 flood season will look like.

"It's actually rain that's been a really big driver in the flooding we've seen in the Interior over the last few years," Campbell said.

"Even in years where we have a fairly normal snowpack, we can get that big response from heavy rain."

A rural property near Grand Forks B.C., threatened by rising flood waters. (Alan Stanley)

Dry March

Snowpack levels are average or below average in much of the province, which Campbell says is an encouraging sign.

"It's been fairly dry for the last couple of months," he said. "We haven't seen that buildup of the snow that we would normally get."

He says, however, if there's a rapid snow melt there could still be severe flooding.

"The overall risk is a bit lower this year but on the rainfall side of things, it's much more uncertain," he said.

"I just think we're certainly cautious of some of those wild card rainfall events that have caused problems in the past."

What you need to know heading into B.C.'s flood season. 2:06

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