As river levels hover at or below normal flows, a truck (upper left) is stuck in the Skeena River last Sunday morning near Polymar. By late afternoon it had been removed. (Shannon Lough photo)

As river levels hover at or below normal flows, a truck (upper left) is stuck in the Skeena River last Sunday morning near Polymar. By late afternoon it had been removed. (Shannon Lough photo)

Early snowmelt showing negligible effect on Skeena levels

Unseasonably warm weather has brought an early onset to snowmelt in the Northwest, but due to prolonged droughts and dry forecasts it’s doubtful the region needs to worry about flooding this spring.

“Regionally the snowpack is below normal…in general it’s looking like it’s been pretty dry up in the Northwest part of the province and we’ve even come down in our [estimates] by about 10 per cent — so we’re sitting around 75 per cent [of normal] for the Skeena-Nass region,” says hydrologist Dave Campbell, head of the River Forecast Centre.

READ MORE: Rain forecast won’t help Skeena river levels

Last year record temperatures caused an early snowmelt in late April, and from late August the area plunged into months-long extreme (Level 4) drought conditions. On multiple occasions Skeena flow volumes fell below all-time records since data was first kept in 1928.

Currently Skeena flow rates at the Usk gauge are registering about 350 cubic-metres per second, only slightly higher than the seasonal norm of just under 200 cubic-metres per second.

In coastal areas, a warm March led to modest increases in streamflows, which still remain well below normal for this time of year.

“The risks of flooding is still there, but it’s shifting more to concerns of if we get any unexpected heavy rainfall patterns,” Campbell says. “That’s the only thing that would really drive any flood risks because from the snowmelt side of things it’s looking pretty modest in terms of seasonal risk.”

Environment Canada data shows a high-pressure system dominated the region in March, delivering just 30 mm of rain in the Terrace area —less than one-third of the normal 92 mm typical for the month since 1913.

Regionally, weather forecasts for the next three months show a 90 per cent probability of temperatures exceeding seasonal norms in the Northwest. As for rain, Environment Canada meteorologist Armel Castellan warns precipitation forecasts are much more difficult to gauge.

“Persistence would say we can expect relatively dry conditions…it’s a mix between a neutral and a below-normal precipitation amount,” says Castellan. “It’s only when we get to early May that things look a little wetter, but that’s a month away so it’s very tough to hang your hat on that.”

Heading into the winter months last year, record low levels in many Skeena tributaries were identified by the SkeenaWild Conservation Trust as too shallow for salmon to reach their spawning grounds. As levels improved slightly there was still concern the eggs may freeze.

SkeenaWild’s executive director, Greg Knox, says stakeholders won’t know for certain how the salmon fared through the winter until planned studies are carried out in May and June.

“The weather wasn’t too cold, which is sometimes helpful,” Knox says. “The warmer water helps them develop faster and hatch out of the gravel sooner. The challenge of course is now going into the spring where we have almost a continuation of the drought we had last summer.”


 


quinn@terracestandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This image shows the Kitsumkalum community hall. The First Nation is about to head to the polls to elect a new council. (Brittany Gervais/Terrace Standard)
All-candidates forum planned for Kitsumkalum election

Virtual meeting set for evening of Feb. 8

Kitselas First Nation received a round of COVID-19 vaccine shots. (Kitselas First Nation image)
Kitselas receives COVID-19 vaccine

Delivery of vaccine was expedited after cluster of cases in community

Northern Health has issued COVID-19 exposure notices for Uplands Elementary School and Centennial Christian School in Terrace. (COVID-19/ CDC Image)
Two more COVID-19 exposure notices issued for schools in Terrace

Exposures took place at Uplands Elementary School and Centennial Christian School

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at B.C. legislature on the province’s mass vaccination plan for COVID-19, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
COVID-19 quarantine not an option for B.C., John Horgan says

Apres-ski parties increase risk, not interprovincial travel

Worker at Swartz Bay terminal on Monday, January 20, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
Former BC Ferries employee alleges he was fired because of his race

Imraan Goondiwala has been granted a BC Human Rights Tribunal hearing

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker have been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
B.C. couple who travelled to Yukon for COVID vaccine ineligible for 2nd dose until summer

The province is ensuring those eligible to receive the vaccine get the second shot within 42 days

(File)
Mask dispute in court leaves Vancouver cop with broken leg

Man allegedly refused to put on a mask and resisted arrest

(Kraft Dinner/Twitter)
Kraft Dinner launches candy-flavoured mac and cheese just in time for Valentine’s Day

Sweet and cheesy treat will be here just in time for the cheesiest holiday of the year

SAR crews worked late into the night Tuesday to rescue an injured snowboarder in North Vancouver. (Facebook/North Shore Rescue)
Complicated, dangerous rescue saves man in avalanche near Cypress Mountain

North Shore SAR team braves considerable conditions to reach injured snowboarder

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
UPDATE: No sign of small plane that went down in waters south of Vancouver Island

Searchers out on both sides of border between Victoria and Port Angeles

Most Read