It may seem like the Okanagan, Kettle and Similkameen valleys have been inundated with snow this winter but the snow pack in the hills was close to normal for Jan. 1.
The first 2013 snow survey and water supply bulletin from the provincial River Forecast Centre says the Okanagan-Kettle was at 99 per cent of normal and the Similkameen was at
97 per cent.
Snow conditions were near normal for this time of year across most of the province, said David Campbell, centre manager.
The key Mission Creek watershed, which supplies one-third of the water flowing into Okanagan Lake, was 112 per cent of normal. Summerland Reservoir was at 85 per cent; Brenda Mine 82 per cent; Isintok Lake at the Okanagan and Similkameen border 95 per cent; Blackwall Peak in the Similkameen 99 per cent; and Grano Creek in the Kettle 71 per cent.
"Weather across B.C. has been variable over the early portion of the snow accumulation season, October to December. With a few exceptions, weather was near normal through most of this period across most of the province," said Campbell.
Wetter-than-normal conditions were present through the latter part of October along the Coast, and above normal temperatures occurred through November across most of the province.
"In contrast to the La Nina episodes, which occurred during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 winters, this year has seen neutral conditions favouring neither El Nino nor La Nina. Current forecasts from the Climate Prediction Centre with the U.S. National Weather Service (NOAA) favour neutral conditions into the spring of 2013."
Current three-month seasonal forecasts from Environment Canada indicate some increased likelihood of below-normal temperatures in southern B.C., with normal temperatures more likely in the rest of the province, he said.
"For precipitation, current three-month forecasts indicate an increased likelihood of drier- than-normal conditions through the Upper Fraser (Rocky Mountains), North Thompson and Upper Columbia areas, with normal precipitation more likely in the rest of the province."
By this date, generally about one-half of the annual B.C. snowpack has accumulated, he said. "Jan. 1st represents an early snapshot of seasonal snow conditions; the outlook for spring freshet can change significantly over the next three or four months."
There are no early indications of increased seasonal flood risk, he said. "At this point, there are no strong indications of a high likelihood of extreme wet or dry seasonal weather through the rest of the accumulation season."