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West Kootenay snow basin only 57% of normal

The provincial average is just 56%
A dusting of snow falls over Trail. The West Kootenay has received just 57 per cent of its average snow pack so far this year. Photo: Sheri Regnier

The West Kootenay’s snow basin is just 57 per cent of what’s considered normal for the region.

Data released Wednesday by the provincial River Forecast Centre shows the snow basin’s measurement taken on Jan. 1. The centre defines a normal snowpack as the average measurement recorded at a station between 1991 and 2020.

The latest update is far lower than what the snow basin had one year ago when it was recorded at 93 per cent.

The lack of snow isn’t limited to the West Kootenay. Snow packs are down across B.C., with a provincial average of 56 per cent.

The East Kootenay is 62 per cent of normal, while the Boundary region that includes Grand Forks is down to 58 per cent.

River Forecast Centre’s data comes as the West Kootenay has experienced a warmer than usual winter. In Nelson, temperatures averaged 1.7 C for December 2023. That likely ties the warmest ever December recorded, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Snow has returned to the region since Jan. 1. Whitewater Ski Resort said Wednesday it had received almost 50 centimetres of snow over 48 hours with a base of 145 centimetres.

Conditions are also gradually improving at Red Mountain Resort, which was forced to delay its opening until Dec. 28. Red has received 24 cm over 48 hours, but still only has an alpine snow depth of just 98 cm.

The lack of snow, however, hasn’t made for less dangerous backcountry conditions. A skier was seriously injured Saturday just outside Whitewater Ski Resort after they triggered an avalanche. Avalanche Canada says most of the West Kootenay is currently rated as a considerable danger for avalanches.

The River Forecast Centre’s next update is scheduled for Feb. 8.

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