While a lack of precipitation is raising fears of drought in many parts of the province, residents in Nanaimo are simply enjoying an extended summer.
Sunshine and temperatures up to 21 C are expected for the Thanksgiving Day weekend and next week, adding to an already spectacular summer and early fall.
“It was the driest August and September on record at the Nanaimo Airport and that has been pretty representative of the east coast of Vancouver Island,” said David Jones, meteorologist with Environment Canada. “The same ridge that created all this dry weather over the summer has popped up again. It’s strong and very persistent.”
The lack of rain has raised water concerns in Cowichan, Courtenay and the Sunshine Coast, but Bill Sims, city manager of water resources, said Nanaimo is fortunate.
“We store water during the winter and spring in our Jump Creek dam on the Nanaimo River and slowly release it over the summer,” he said. “Normally we try to have that reservoir completely filled by the end of June, but thanks to the crappy weather we had into July, we had full storage right into the third week of that month.”
That late storage, combined with a decrease in daily water consumption over the summer, has left the city in good shape in terms of available supply.
“We’re drawing down of course, getting close to 50 per cent storage. We never, ever want to be below 30 per cent so we’ve got a pretty good amount left,” said Sims. “We’re always concerned about drought and monitor on a daily basis, but no one is throwing that word around yet. We’re in decent shape.”
Jones said the high pressure ridge is expected to continue with clear skies making for cool mornings, but the temperature is rebounding nicely during the day.
“Why that ridge is there and why it has been so persistent into the fall we don’t know,” he said. “The outflow winds is keeping the air quite dry and warm.”
The news is not all good as the fair weather increases the risk of fire.
Nanaimo was hit with a wind storm Tuesday, with gusts from the northwest reaching 75 km/h near Entrance Island and drying out even further an already parched forest.
Donna MacPherson, spokeswoman for the Coastal Fire Centre, said the area around Nanaimo and Gabriola Island is “stunningly dry” and in an extreme fire danger rating.
“The outflow winds we had come from the Interior is dry so whatever moisture is in it has been sucked out,” she said. “Our forecasters say the furthest on the horizon we’d expect precipitation would be the middle of the month, which will likely be a single-day event. Behind that is even more dry until at least the end of the month.”
The Coastal Fire Centre has responded to 234 wildfires since April 1 – 134 which were caused by people.
To report a wildfire, please call 1-800-663-5555.
with files from Toby Gorman