If Environment Canada is right, it’s going to likely be a hot, dry summer in British Columbia.
This week, the national weather service released statistics showing it was a warmer and much drier spring than normal throughout the province.
Now, Environment Canada is projecting a high likelihood of a warmer-than-normal summer for B.C.
And by likelihood, Environment Canada is projecting probability levels of 50 to 90 per cent, depending on where in B.C. you call home.
For example, along the South Coast, Environment Canada’s projection map shows a probability level of 80 to 90 per cent of being warmer. In the Southern Interior, it’s between 50 and 80 per cent.
All this, against a background of a dry spring.
So dry, in fact, that a handful of B.C. communities set new record lows for rainfall. Among them were Comox (which received just 34.4 per cent of its normal precipitation levels), Kelowna (50.4 per cent) and Prince George (51 per cent).
Fort Nelson had its second driest spring ever, while Fort St. John had its fifth. Other communities that had very dry springs included Victoria (sixth driest ever), Vernon (8th), Nanaimo (9th), Terrace (9th) and Abbotsford (10th)
Watson Lake, while in the Yukon, received just 13 per cent of its normal rainfall. The only regional exception was Williams Lake, at 107 per cent.
“So, really low numbers across the board, below 100 per cent,” said Armel Castellan, a warning preparedness meteorologist for Environment and Climate Change Canada.
“We’re talking about all over the map. It’s certainly a very worrying trend.”
Castellan said B.C.’s drying trend started around mid-February, adding March was super dry, April was close to normal and May was extremely dry.
“When you look at the [spring] season as a whole,” said Castellan, “very, very dry and also certainly warmer than normal for almost all locations.”
For June, July and August, Environment Canada’s forecast probability for above-normal temperatures ranges from the Pacific Ocean to the prairies and into parts of Western Ontario, though the highest likelihoods are in B.C.
Castellan said other meteorological agencies around the world also provide the same information, “and everybody for western North America is showing higher probabilities of above-normal temperatures for that stretch.
“That’s consistent, so there’s a fairly high confidence behind that forecast this particular season — particularly so on the coast and a little bit less so as you go into the prairies, where it drops to 50 or 60 per cent probabilities, whereas it’s 80 to 90 [per cent] on coastal B.C.”
Castellan said predicting seasonal precipitation is very tough, as they can only ‘see’ so far in advance. That said, judging on recent history, he said there will probably be very long stretches of no precipitation.
“The wildcard is convection, thunderstorms,” he said. “As a ridge breaks down, like we’ll see on Thursday or Friday next week, we’ll have probably a convective outbreak.
“How strong it is has yet to be determined, but there are going to be places that if they get hit — like Williams Lake [this year], which saw [storm] cells really hit it enough to bring it up to normal [precipitation levels] – that will be the wildcard.”
Castellan added “but, again, it’s going to be fairly localized. And it’s also going to be a wildcard for the wildfire threat. If it’s just dry enough, it’s going to be convective, there are going to be wildfire starts with lightning and, obviously, there’s always wind associated with these breakdowns.
“That’s the big danger there.”