By Andru McCracken
David Phillips, Environment Canada’s Senior Forecaster said although Valemount and McBride’s summer was a wet one, it wasn’t record setting. But it was well above average with 167mm of precipitation falling (107mm is average). Wetter summers on record include well over 200mm in 1982 and another wet July in 1999.
What was different this year, said Phillips, was that almost everyday in July had rain and cloud cover, that kept the temperatures down to 21.7 degrees Celsius; the usual would be 24 degrees. Likewise, cloud cover held the heat in during the night and kept things on average a degree warmer than usual, though Phillips doubted that the denizens of McBride, Valemount and Blue River were availing themselves of the balmy 9.8 degree Celsius night time average after the sun went down (compared to a usual average of 8.8 degrees).
“In many ways July was the water torture test, you had rain [everyday] but for four of them,” he said. “If it wasn’t raining, it was looking like rain.”
Phillips said the spring was a bit dry, and June had just 65mm.
“The one group of people saving all sorts of money is the BC Wildfire Service,” he said.
“In some ways July was absolutely what you needed. It is good to restore – you want a balance in life and in weather,” he said.
Forecast for snow fans
For folks hoping that the wet summer is going to turn into a snowy winter, Environment Canada’s senior forecaster just chuckles.
“You can’t take one season and make a case that it’s a trend,” he said.
“What drives the connection with climate change is the wild swings so you can’t always count on summers being hot and winters being cold.”
For the coming months September and October should be slightly warmer than normal.
“There is no El Nino or La Nina this year,” said Phillips. “It’s a neutral case, so we can never be sure where the weather is going to come from… but we don’t cancel winter in this country.”
As for snow measurement and prediction, Phillips actually expressed his deep regret that Canadian forecasters don’t know more about snow and have a better way of predicting and measuring it.
On climate change
“If there is anything I fear about the future it is increased variability, it’s that joker in the weather deck. It is almost as if there isn’t normal anymore,” said Phillips.
He said the weather patterns fluctuate to extremes a lot more, even though the “average” may look the same.