The fields across from Russell Farm Market & Garden Centre. The weather has been perfect for growing an abundance of crops, with a mix of sun and cloud throughout the past month. (Photo by Don Bodger)

EDITORIAL: Weather playing guessing games

Remember those near zero precipitation totals of July 2017 and ‘18?

Climate change is definitely taking us all over the map with extreme conditions.

By this time in early July during two of the last three years, there was a considerable amount of panic about dwindling water sources and drought.

In fact, you might recall, July of 2017 and ‘18 were about as dry as it ever gets in this part of the world before the pattern shifted in 2019 and looks to be doing the same in 2020.

A short term history lesson is in order first, thanks to statistics from our diligent Vancouver Island weather expert Chris Carss.

The first thing you must know is that in the Chemainus Valley (where Carss is based) normal for rainfall in July is 27.5 millimetres, not a substantial amount but enough to keep things from reaching desert-like proportions.

In July of 2017, there was less than a millimetre of rainfall recorded at 0.7. Then we had an extremely dry August at 2.7 mm with a total of just 3.4 mm over a 62-day period and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

The summer of 2018 brought even more concerns with 0.4 mm in July or hardly a drop in the bucket. The August 2018 rainfall was also low, but not as much as the year before, at 12.5 mm compared to a normal for the month of 36.2.

Those conditions could not be sustained over the long haul without serious consequences for our water supply. You also might remember those two summers were horrific for wildfires around the province.

Related: July heats up and precipitation drops to drought levels in the Chemainus Valley

Just when we thought this might become the norm, July of 2019 yielded 25.9 mm followed by 20.3 mm in August. The wildfire season was not nearly as bad and the seriousness of water sources drying up was diminished.

Here in 2020, April had 54.4 mm of rain and that’s 20 mm below normal. The month also included a long spell without rain that sparked fears of another dry summer ahead.

Early July 2020 has produced some rain, but not a lot yet and it will become mostly dry again soon. It just depends on how dry it gets.

Expect the unexpected these days. And expect to do more to conserve some years than others.


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