If the heavy rain forecast by Environment Canada has indeed arrived, it ought to serve as a reminder of just how fickle — and powerful — Mother Nature can be.
The special weather statement issued Thursday warned of the potential for localized flooding and came just hours before the Canadian Press published a story about the risk of drought this summer.
“Snowpack levels in B.C. recorded on May 15 were similar to those in 2015 and 2016 and the B.C. River Forecast Centre says they are among the lowest in the last 40 years. It also says diminished snowpacks and early snow melt due to a warm spring increase the likelihood of low flows in rivers and streams across the province this summer,” the story explains.
“Rain in May and June will help in B.C., but the river centre says seasonal forecasts from Environment Canada predict above-normal temperatures in late spring and early summer across western B.C., and there is no sign of cooler, wetter weather in other regions,” the story adds later.
The biggest variable, however, is how much precipitation we get during the tail end of May and through June — typically the rainiest months of the year in the Okanagan.
Back in 2017, B.C. officials were concerned about the potential for a summer drought, so they kept the level of Okanagan Lake relatively high.
However, they were caught off-guard by heavy spring rains and couldn’t release water fast enough to head off flooding.
We hope they’ve learned their lesson, but forecasting is an inexact science.
The only sure bet is Mother Nature will win every time, so the best we can do as regular citizens is heed the warnings in those special weather statements, make sure our properties are protected as best as possible, and be ready to leave in case of an emergency.
Joe Fries is city editor of The Penticton Herald.