Drought and Forest Fire Threat

B-C Environment Minister Barry Penner says the province needs a cool, rainy spring to avoid a potentially early forest fire season and a summer-long drought.

He notes record-setting warmth and low precipitation in January and February mean historically low snowfall and mountain snowpacks across many areas of B-C.

Snowpacks range from 65 per cent to 95 per cent of normal, according to a bulletin issued by the ministry’s river forecast centre.

Conditions are said to be below average across much of the Interior, including the Peace Region, home to the largest hydroelectric generating facility in the province.

The local area snowpack is 79 per cent of normal and Environment Canada numbers show the local area precipitation total, during the first two months of the year, was just 24 millimeters or 50 percent of the norm.

BC Hydro spokesman Dag Sharman says the volume of water flowing into the utility’s reservoirs is at 91 per cent of average.

However, he adds, inflows have been lower in 13 of the last 49 years and the Crown Corporation is confident it will have enough water to meet customers’ demand for electricity.

He’s quoted by the Vancouver Sun as saying, "We’d obviously prefer to have more water in our reservoirs, but it’s something we are used to dealing with – and it’s within our capacity to deal with it."



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