by Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on Monday Mar 27 2023
The West Kootenay region is lagging behind much of the province when it comes to snowpack and sits lower at this time of the year than it normally does.
The Ministry of Forests Snow Survey and Water Supply Bulletin (March) has the West Kootenay pegged at 90 per cent of normal, below the average of 94 per cent from across the province.
But with 80 per cent of the seasonal snow pack having already accumulated, on average, by March 1, the West Kootenay is looking at drier conditions as the warmer months settle in.
However, the conditions in the upper reaches of the mountains are still ripe for the white stuff, according to the provincial report.
“With a couple more months of potential snow accumulation, seasonal snow packs can still change significantly based on weather,” it read.
In fact, considering La Niña conditions existed during last fall and into this winter, La Niña years often lead to increased late season snowfalls and delayed onset of snowmelt. This is the third La Niña in a row (triple dip), with it present during the fall-winter of 2020-21 and 2021-22.
La Niña happens when oceanic temperature anomalies along the equator of the Pacific Ocean region are below normal for an extended period.
“Historically, La Niña conditions create cooler temperatures for British Columbia,” the report predicted.
Weather predictions for the region indicate a greater likelihood of below normal temperatures into May for all of the West Kootenay, with the highest likelihood of cold temperatures occurring along the coast.
There is a slight possibility of above normal precipitation in the Interior and below normal precipitation in the East Kootenay for March through May.
February was drier than normal for the region — but rose from only 84 per cent of near normal in January — and the West Kootenay showed an 18 per cent drop in snow pack (versus normal) compared to last year at this time.
The provincial average jumped from just 79 per cent of normal in February to 94 per cent in March, with the average of all snow stations in B.C. one year ago at 105 per cent.
The report also cautioned that the West Kootenay is still at risk for spring flooding if those adverse weather do occur.