Officials from the B.C. River Forecast Centre aren’t ready to panic over a report that shows the snowpack in the Nicola basin is sitting at 72 per cent of the normal level as of Jan. 1.

The stat came as part of the monthly snow survey and water supply bulletin issued by the River Forecast Centre. The figure of 72 per cent was the result of measurements taken at two sites in the Nicola basin, explained section head David Campbell.

“I’m a little bit cautious with that, when we look at adjacent snowpacks in the Okanagan or other areas in the Thompson country, we’re not quite as low as that, we’re a bit closer to normal,” said Campbell.

As of February and March, the reports will include measurements from four or five sites in the Nicola basin, which will provide the River Forecast Centre with more accurate numbers, said Campbell.

A low snowpack in the region could lead to water supply issues later in the year, explained Campbell. A warmer winter could also mean the snowpack melts earlier, making water scarcity an even bigger factor later in the summer.

The Jan. 1 bulletin noted that the Climate Prediction Centre was forecasting a high likelihood of El Niño through this winter and continuing into the spring. El Niño is typically linked to warmer winters across British Columbia.

“During El Niño, snowpacks tend to be lower than normal; however, there has been a large range of variability in snowpack in B.C. during El Niño winters in the past (for example 2007 was following an El Niño winter and had significant snowpack across the province),” stated the report.

The full bulletin is available online here.