Snowpack Slumps to Historic Lows: NBMCA Reports Record-Breaking Winter Drought

Recent weather patterns have led to an unusually low snowpack in the region, as detailed by the North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority (NBMCA). The authority, responsible for monitoring snow depth and water content for its Flood Forecasting and Warning Program, has observed significant deviations from the norm due to mild weather and scant precipitation over the past fortnight.

According to the latest reports, the snowpack has diminished by 6.5 cm, while the snow water equivalent has seen a slight increase of 4.3 mm since the previous survey conducted on January 15, 2024. “The average snow depth for all three locations is 19.7 cm (well below normal) and water equivalence for the three sites is 52.3 mm (below normal),” Angela Mills, an NBMCA Water Resources Specialist, elucidated. She further noted, “Only 1988 recorded less snow than 2024 at Corbeil, while the North Bay and Shirley Skinner sites have recorded new historic minimum snow depth for this time of year.”

In response to the shifting conditions, the NBMCA has revised its methodology for comparing current snow survey measurements to historical data. The updated approach includes articulating a spectrum of “normal” values anticipated in a typical year and benchmarking the present data against these standards. This initiative aims to provide a more nuanced understanding of snowpack variations over time. Additionally, the NBMCA has launched a new Snow Survey web page, offering comprehensive details on the program and this season’s findings, available at nbmca.ca/watershed-management/snow-survey/.

The conservation authority continues its rigorous monitoring at three key locations within the watershed, measuring both the depth and water content of the snow. This data plays a critical role in forecasting potential flooding and managing water resources effectively in the face of climatic changes.

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