Kelowna experienced the fourth driest May since 1969, seeing only 40 per cent of its average rainfall. (Caitlin Clow / Kelowna Capital News)

Kelowna sees driest spring on record

Only 17 millimetres of rain fell in May, 40% less than average

Kelowna just witnessed its fourth driest May in record history — receiving only 40 per cent of its normal rainfall, or 17 millimetres.

Matt MacDonald, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, said its the fifth dry month in a row for the city since the New Year.

“This has been the driest spring on record,” he said, noting Kelowna received only 43.3 mm of rainfall between March and May. “That’s exactly half of the normal 86 millimetres.”

READ MORE: Okanagan-Shuswap weather: cloudy

“May was impressively warm,” he said, noting an average 3.5-degree rise from typical conditions. “It was the second warmest May since 1969, with last year being the hottest.”

Dry and hot weather is nice for a day at the beach, but MacDonald said it could be cause for concern.

“The stage is definitely set from a wildfire perspective,” MacDonald said. “Dryness and heat are two essential factors.”

Luckily, a cooler and wetter weather pattern is moving into the region over the next few days with widespread rain between five and 10 mm expected to fall on Friday and Saturday.

“Sunday onwards, a ridge of high pressure begins to rebuild through Thursday of next week,” he said, which will see the heat and dryness return.

READ MORE: B.C. to be the ‘king of heat’ this summer, meteorologist says

This summer has already been dubbed the “king of heat” for most of British Columbia and Alberta. Chief meteorologist Chris Scott said hotter and drier weather will increase wildfire threat and drought risk.

MacDonald said the BC Wildfire Service emphasizes the importance of June rain, and it looks as if there is some in the forecast for the Kelowna area, but it could be short-lived.

“Hopefully we see some rain move back in for the second half of June,” MacDonald said.


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