March 15, 2019 7:31 pm
Updated: March 16, 2019 12:20 am

Despite a snowy winter, concerns have shifted from flooding to drought in B.C.

WATCH: With winter finally in the rear-view mirror, Kylie Stanton gets the latest information about what we might expect for fires and floods this spring and summer.


This past winter is one many won’t soon forget, with snow and bitterly cold temperatures that just didn’t seem to let up.

The one thing missing from the wet west coast was the rain.

“An arctic front came down and that air mass was very dry,” Environment and Climate Change Canada meteorologist Carmen Hartt said. “So we did receive less precipitation for many areas.”

READ MORE: ‘The risks related to snow melt are lower’: Below-normal snowpacks in Okanagan dampen flood risks

Province-wide, the snowpack is sitting at an average of 89 per cent of normal. But there are several areas, like the northwest and Vancouver Island, that are currently measuring well below that number.

BC River Forecast Centre head Dave Campbell said that’s raising concerns about possible drought conditions going into the summer.

WATCH: (Aired Aug. 24, 2018) Jules Knox reports on last year’s drought in the Okanagan

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“Other areas could emerge if the patterns we’ve seen continue, where we’re just not going to have the same amount of water come down as we go into the summer time,” Campbell said.

BC Hydro is monitoring the situation, reporting lower than usual water supply in some areas.

In Metro Vancouver, water restrictions will come into effect on May 1.  Given the circumstances, officials are urging the public to be proactive.

READ MORE: Vancouver Island, northern B.C. elevated to province’s highest drought rating

“If we start early with regards to conservation and using only the water that we need, then we should have plenty of supply to last us well into the end of summer, if not into a very dry fall,” Inder Singh with Metro Vancouver Water Services said.

On the flip side, this could be good news for places like Grand Forks, which saw massive flooding last year as the snowpack there quickly melted.  A reduced amount this spring could bring some relief.

“We’re certainly seeing when we have the low snowpacks that the risk is less going into the spring melt and the spring freshet,” said Campbell. “But always, the wild card is how the rain pans out.”

WATCH: Coverage of flooding in Grand Forks on

The spring rains are also the wild card when it comes to wildfires.

So far, roughly 80 percent of the year’s precipitation for the snowpack is already in the books, and Campbell said there needs to be a dramatic change in the pattern to turn things around and prevent tinder dry conditions during the summer months.

Warmer weather is in the forecast, but the rain isn’t expected to come along with it — at least for now.​

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