July 16, 2016 - 6:00 AM
THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - What a difference a year — and a whole bunch of rain — has made for the drought picture in the the Southern Interior.
This time last year, the North and South Thompson regions to the north and the Similkameen and Kettle regions were already in the grip of drought with conditions rated extremely dry.
Only the Okanagan region held out with a rating of very dry but by early August, it too was sitting parched with a level-four drought advisory in effect.
Fast forward a year and the Okanagan region along with all the others are rated normal dryness. The Okanagan has actually climbed up a notch from June when the region had a dry rating.
The obvious difference is the cooler, wetter weather across the province, particularly in the last couple of weeks, as a series of cold lows have kept conditions unsettled.
Tourists won’t like to hear it, but Environment Canada meteorologist Lisa Coldwells says rainfall across the region for the month of July has actually been relatively normal — hence the normal drought rating.
“People have short memories,” Coldwells says. “The last two summers have been abnormally warm, so now people are saying 'where’s my hot summer'."
In Kelowna, 37.7 mm of rain fell in June, just over the historical norm for the month. July has been normal too, with 13.7 mm of precipitation to July 14. Normal for the month is 28.6 mm.
Kamloops had a dry June with just 15.1 mm of rain, well under half the 37.4 mm average for the month. July has been the opposite with 23.6 mm halfway through the month and not far off the 31.4 mm average.
Vernon went dry in June, too with just 38.4 mm of precipitation compared to the 53.9 mm it would normally get. Vernon has so far received 26.3 mm in July, well over half the historical average of 40.7 mm.
Penticton got soaked in June with 73.4 mm of rain when it normally receives 46.3 mm. July has been kinder to Penticton with 13.4 mm halfway through the month. The norm for July is 28.7 mm.
Coldwells says the cold lows normally responsible for rain in June have continued into July.
“For some reason, they have kept forming,” she says. “We thought it might be over but there’s one coming in this weekend and another one already forming that will come in next week."
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