What a difference a few weeks can make – warm to very cold (-30’C in some areas) to above 5’C with rain and rising freezing levels. Still seeing low to very low snow levels throughout our watershed, and rising river levels as they adjust to the recent rain and snowmelt. The Provincial snow monitoring report will be released Feb 8th, with an analysis often including more of the manual snow monitoring stations. Keep hoping for snow, and continue to think of ways that you can reduce water use this summer incase we enter again into a low water period.
Monitoring groundwater and river levels as we left the fall in drought conditions, we are seeing a slight rise in the groundwater levels at the three Provincial monitoring stations, which are all recording average levels: Beaverdell, Midway and Grand Forks. In response to the rain and low elevation snow melt, we are also seeing a rise in river levels throughout are region.
Going forward – what’s coming? Forecasting continues to be a mixture of modelling and human interpretation, so realizing that there is always uncertainty -especially with forecasting more than a few days out. Environment Canada is showing much higher than normal temperatures expected this spring. As we have been seeing all season, there is not a clear message whether we will see low, normal or higher precipitation amts compared to average.
We are still in a strong El Nino period (red), which matches to the high temps we are experiencing. A shift to neutral (grey) and La Nina (blue) is expected for the summer and fall. Normally, La Nina coincides with cooler and wetter conditions, however the summer of 2021 also showed a strong La Nina and the Boundary experienced a drought conditions. Check out the IRI site to see past ENSO forecasting and compare it with what actually happened.
As we are well aware, the Boundary region has less snow than usual for this time of year. According to BC Snow Report, the Boundary snowpack is only 58% of what is a normal snow pack. However, the Province determined this using data from only two sites: Grano Creek (automated) and Monashee Pass (manual), as our other two manual snow stations (Carmi and Big White) are often not measured this early in the season. For information on these snow stations go to the Snow Interactive Map – their snow levels are shown below.
When our snowpack melts in the spring, it gives us the water we need for to recharge our groundwater (aquifers) and rivers. This is needed as nature prepares for the normally drier summer conditions. Now is a great time to consider how best you can prepare to save more water this year, perhaps just by using it more wisely. You might consider using rain barrels to support garden watering, plan for deep watering your trees during the spring allowing for reduced watering in the summer, ensuring there are no leaks in your yard or dripping taps in your house.
We have several more months to accumulate snow, so keep up the snow dances and let’s hope this recent cold snap is joined by more of that fluffy white stuff.
Check out the following sites for more information:
The BC Government publishes a monthly Province Wide Snow Report with this first one out in January. Our lower snow pack was anticipated as BC is experiencing a strong El Nino presence, anticipated to be returning to a more neutral state this spring. With a more neutral influence, we expect to see temperatures also returning to more normal conditions.
The 3 month forecast for both Temperature and Precipitation shows that we should continue to expect higher than normal temperatures for the remaining winter months, but no clear information on what to expect for snow levels.
Even with the recent rains, there are still lower than average stream flows throughout the Boundary Region. The report below discusses current conditions, comparing to past years and forecasts for our region. The obvious rise in stream flow following our rain events shows how tied our streams are to local conditions. So here’s hoping for more rain.
Keep WaterSmart and FireSmart. Every effort counts.
With the heat warning issued yesterday for the Boundary Region, we need to prepare ourselves for even lower stream water levels and hotter water temperatures. Most of the stream are showing lower than normal for this time of year; we expect that to worsen over this upcoming week. Those with Provincial water licences will be receiving a letter (if you haven’t already) recommending a decrease in your water use by 50%. For Water System users – check your Water System website or speak to your admin to find out what water restrictions are in place. Look both indoor and outdoor, where can you reduce your water use?
We are all withdrawing water out of the same watershed, so every effort you make to reduce your water use helps. Many small efforts together can result in a large outcome.