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Kootenay snowpack sitting at 84%

The Kootenay snowback is slightly below normal for this time of year, but a provincial forecaster says there is still time for that to change.

Overall the West Kootenay and East Kootenay were both at 84 per cent of normal as of Feb. 1,  according to hydrologist Jonathan Boyd of the River Forecast Centre.

“It’s just a little bit below normal,” he said. “It’s certainly not as extreme as other areas of the province that are down in the 60 and 70 per cent range.”

Boyd said is there is also some variation within figure. For example, the snowpack around Lower Arrow Lake near Castlegar is slightly above normal.

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Last year at the same time, the Kootenay snowpack was 116 per cent of normal.

Boyd said with two more months of potential snow to come, things could change.

“It already has changed in the first week of February with some fairly decent storms rolling through the province and some areas along the coast bumped up by 10 to 12 per cent,” he said.

“There would certainly be concern from the reservoir storage in the West Kootenay that it’s a bit below normal and having to prepare for that, but [otherwise] it’s not necessarily a major concern.”

Boyd said having a snowpack a little below normal is not a bad place to be, for if it is above normal it brings the risk of flooding, and if it is extremely below normal, drought and low water supply could occur in the summer.

He said given the wet start to February, he expects figures throughout the province to climb.

“The hope is it gets closer to normal for areas that need the water, but as a flood forecaster it’s a positive from my perspective not to have the whole province way above normal this year.”

The overall provincial snowpack is 79 per cent of normal. The only regions where it is above normal are the Boundary and Okanagan, which sit at 116 and 121 per cent respectively.

The next update will be issued March 8.

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