NEWS

Northern B.C. sees near-record snowpack levels

03/24/2012 08:22 EDT | Updated 05/24/2012 05:12 EDT

Flooding forecasters are keeping an eye on snowpack levels in northern B.C. as cooler than normal temperatures have produced near-record snowpack levels in some areas.

In the Nechako Basin, the snowpack is nearly 160 per cent of normal while the Upper Fraser shows a snowpack of 144 per cent of normal.

"You know, we do have an increased probability of scene flood events, but whether or not it does happen will depend on that weather piece," said Dave Campbell of the B.C. River Forecast Centre.

Campbell says the flood risk will go down if the temperatures remain mild, which means the snow will melt at a slow rate.

"Historically, there's surprisingly a fairly weak correlation between excessively high snowpacks and then the magnitude of flooding."

Kelly Gilday, the deputy fire chief in Prince George, said firefighters there have been on river watch for several weeks.

"It was just the ice forming on the Nechako [River]. We always get concerned when we have it back up a little bit," he said.

"When it compresses up and forms a bit of a jam, and watching where that excess water will go."

In December 2008, an ice jam on the Nechako River led to a state of local emergency, and some businesses and homes were flooded.

Officials will continue to monitor river levels in northern B.C., hoping for a gradual increase in temperature this spring.

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