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Pressure is on for June to deliver rain in Okanagan, Kamloops

May 21, 2021 - 6:30 AM

June is going to be an important month weather-wise as Kamloops and the Okanagan continue to deal with lack of rain.

“We had the record dry March in Kelowna, and fourth place for the driest April, but if May is going to be close to record as really dry, that will be three months in a row," Environment Canada meteorologist Doug Lundquist said.

"We’re not getting the rain. This is my big concern... I’m looking at the next 10 days out and not seeing anything significant. That’s going to get us to the end of May. I’m very concerned about the dryness.”

Precipitation levels are similar - as in down - throughout the Thompson and Okanagan for March through May.

The lack of moisture is putting a lot of pressure for the weather in June to be at or exceed normal precipitation levels.

June is normally the wettest month of the year in Kamloops, Penticton and Kelowna. Vernon gets the most rain of the year in the 31 days centred on June 10. On average, 46 millimetres of rain falls in Penticton in June, while 40 mm falls in Vernon, 37.4 mm in Kamloops and 33 mm in Kelowna.

May is also one of the region’s wettest months, but so far this year, it’s been quite dry in the Thompson-Okanagan for the first half of May with less than 10 per cent of the month’s normal precipitation so far.

“We really rely on June rains for wildfire season and agricultural purposes," Environment Canada meteorologist Bobby Sekhon said. "It’s important to note that May is a transition month between a drier April and wetter June, so we are really going to hope we get into more precipitation as the month goes on.”

READ MORE: Why June is Kamloops' and the Okanagan's rainy season

The region’s June weather is normally driven by upper level lows, a weather pattern that is fairly unique to the B.C. Interior.

Because the Interior is so close to the coast, we feel the effects of the contrast between seasonal ocean and land heating.

“June is when the sun’s angle is highest, resulting in the land heating more quickly than the Pacific Ocean," Environment Canada meteorologist Carmen Hartt said in a previous interview with "Upper level lows develop over the northeast part of the Pacific Ocean, putting us into a southerly flow which tends to bring moisture and unsettled weather to the interior,” she says.

B.C. Wildfire Service fire information officer Taylor MacDonald said the fire danger rating is currently low to moderate, although dry conditions are the norm and warmer temperatures are expected this weekend.

"Predicting the severity of the fire season is very difficult to do, especially at this stage. The rains we see between May and June are extremely important to reduce the severity of the fire season,” MacDonald said.

So far this year, the Kamloops Fire Centre has responded to 55 wildfires with 11 currently active, a bit more than normal compared to the past couple of years,” she said.

This year's lack of moisture also prompted Greater Vernon Water to advise residents to plan ahead for a dry summer based on the current water supply forecast.

“While we usually receive significant rain in June to help fill our reservoirs, this year’s forecast indicates there is a high chance of getting less than our normal June precipitation,” the utility said in a release.

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