Digging into snow pack numbers

Digging into snow pack numbers

Writer gives a closer look at snowpack numbers and what that means for spring melting.

The Province of British Columbia snow bulletin for March 1 can be viewed online.

The Skeena/Nass snow water equivalent is sitting at about 80 per cent of normal, which on the surface of it (pun intended) is rather unremarkable. However, when you look a little closer, the 80 percentile is predicated by rather low water equivalents in the upper Skeena/Nass drainages — like seriously low with some sites reporting only 60 per cent of normal.

Looking even closer, what our eyes are telling most of us is the snow pack for this part of the region is significant. For example, Hudson Bay Mtn. is sitting at about 110 per cent. Not alarming but still a bit above normal. What is more interesting, McKendrick Pass (valley bottom) is near 135 per cent of normal. Not hugely alarming but more significant.

So, the valley bottom pack throughout the Bulkley Valley — in particular the Smithers wetland town site and outlying areas — will probably cause some excitement during this 2018 freshet for home owners. Also, low elevation watersheds like Canyon Creek, Deep Creek, Upper Bulkley River, etc. could be subject to significant large volume runoff as we move into warmer weather, 24-hour melt and perhaps even a day or two of rain.

Bottom line for Smithers residents, check your sump pumps, cross fingers that perimeter drainage is up to snuff and think about moving basement/crawl space storage stuff off the floor. I’ve determined ground frost penetration is not much more than a couple of inches. Unlike last winter where the frost got down to a couple meters, this spring a goodly portion of the snow melt is going to elevate the Smithers perched aquifer/wetland upon which we live.

J. Bruce McGonigal

Smithers