How Low can a River Flow?

We went for our much needed hike along the trails along Ferry Island, which is part of the community of Terrace, BC. The first leg of our mini journey was to walk up the sand bar to the northern most tip of the island. I marveled at just how low the Skeena River is, at almost the same levels as last February, when we last walked here.

When I drove over the old Skeena River Bridge yesterday, I noticed that the little causeway between the large boulders and the northern sand bar were almost joined by dry land. It was not until this morning that the ground between these two areas were completely dry, enough that we could easily walk up sand bar. This would appear that the water level of the Skeena River dropped almost 30cm, over night. So we decided to hike the area.

I would have thought that with the rain we had over the last couple weeks, this would add to the river’s water flow, but that does not seem to be the case in my mind. This raises a few questions. Could it be that the inland areas that feed the Skeena River are dryer than normal? Is this a normal water level for this time of year? I could be looking at a normal cycle that the river goes through year after year., so nothing to worry about–right?

I know a couple of factors. We did have an extra ordinary dry summer, reaching Stage Four Drought Conditions, over the summer season. We went nearly a month and a half with Stage Four. We also had a low snow pack from last winter, and I am sure that will still be effecting our environment. The river is very important for many in the community. Many depend on the river for food and revenue, if that is gone, that could be very disruptive. How low can a river flow?

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