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Dry winter in the Fraser Valley could lead to summer drought


Andrea Stockton, staff writer
January 11, 2012 — A lack of rain and snow over BC's lower mainland could result in possible drought conditions this summer.


Concerns for a summer drought with lack of snow this winter
Concerns for a summer drought with lack of snow this winter

The mild start to winter has puzzled most Canadians across the country. Record breaking temperatures combined with a lack of snow has made several areas feel more like spring.

While some residents are embracing the lack of wintry conditions, it's spelling problems for farmers who rely on local reservoirs. Water levels over BC's lower mainland are extremely low.

“Normally in the Fraser Valley during a La Nina year, we would be seeing a lot of rain and we would be having localized flooding from some of our creeks and rivers. We'd be seeing a lot more snow than we're seeing right now. This is like early spring weather that we're seeing here,” says Lynn Orstad, Emergency Program Manager.

By this date in January, generally about one half of the annual snowpack has accumulated with another three months of accumulation to come.

“So we are concerned. Right now our river levels are low and we're just not getting the snow,” says Orstad. ”We get the majority of our water from the rivers in what we call the Upper Fraser basin, around the Prince George area. So as the snow melts, that's the water that comes down and replenishes our water sheds and helps the farmers and ranchers maintain their agriculture and their livestock.”

Orstad adds that a lack of snow could result in drought or near drought situations during the summer months.

Still, officials are trying to remain optimistic.

“This is just the beginning of winter for us. It's unusual this time in January to see it so warm, but literally within a week or two weeks, the Arctic air could suddenly switch, come down and we could get rain and a lot of snow,” says Orstad.

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