Summer still drier than average

Rain levels this season in the Shuswap remain below normal.

Think it’s been a rainy summer?

You’d be wrong.

The actual amount of precipitation in July was only 76 per cent of normal levels, so it has actually been a drier July than average. June was much the same, with the Salmon Arm area only seeing 49 per cent of its normal amount of precipitation.

But what has made it seem so rainy is the number of days with precipitation.

“It’s been a lot of days with a little bit of rain,” says Lisa Coldwells, Environment Canada meteorologist, “That’s what’s been the departure from the norm. Instead of these long sunny stretches, we’ve been getting small pockets of rain on a lot of days.”

July, usually has under 10 days with precipitation, but this July has had 18 days with precipitation recorded, although not in large amounts at any one time.

Coldwells says thunderstorms are also often very sporadic, hitting one area and missing another, so the calculations at the Salmon Arm weather station might not be reflective of the whole area.

The unsettled summer weather can be blamed on a series of smaller, cold upper low pressure systems which have been moving down from Alaska. This means the usual strong ridge of high pressure that gives the region long stretches of hot, sunny weather has been disrupted. The pattern started in June with, as Coldwells says, the regularity of a train trip and “that train hasn’t given up coming through yet.”

The long range forecast is also showing no break form the cooler, unsettled patterns.

“We can’t seem to shake it. It’s been the bane of the entire province,” says Coldwells.

But the meteorologist says people’s comparisons might also be skewed by the last few summers which have been among the warmest in recorded history.

“I mean, relatively speaking, we are close to the norms in terms of temperature. On August 4 the normal expected high temperature was 27 and we had 30 degrees in the forecast. People just have very short weather memories.”

There have been a few bonuses from the ebb and flow of the low pressure systems.

The weather has made for some particularly gorgeous weather events, like spectacular sunsets, interesting cloud formations and dramatic rainbows.