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‘Precipitation deficit’: Dry conditions in Princeton continue ahead of wildfire season

Monthly precipitation numbers for March were down about 11 millimetres in the town
The Similkameen River. (Cindy Boehm/UBC Okanagan)

Environment Canada says communities across the Similkameen are continuing to suffer from a “precipitation deficit” dating back to the beginning of winter.

A significantly drier-than-normal winter, particularly in Princeton, has lingered into spring, causing a potential cause for concern less than three months ahead of the anticipated wildfire season.

“The cause for concern is almost B.C.-wide,” said Derek Lee, a meteorologist at Environment and Climate Change Canada. “The province hasn’t faired very well for precipitation…what we saw this winter was definitely drier and colder.”

Princeton saw a total of five millimetres of precipitation in March.

The town’s average for the month, which is already significantly lower than communities on B.C.’s coast, sits at 16 millimetres.

“I would almost bet on April finishing similar to what we saw in March, which is definitely significantly below average in terms of precipitation amount,” Lee said.

“Once we get to May, June, July, I would say the probability of thunderstorms occurring is higher and that’s when we’re going to have to replenish those water supplies. That’s the key.”

The wildfire in Manning Park last year was caused by lightning.

Lee adds that it continued to be colder than normal into the middle of April, too.

“It’s not always the case where warmer equals drier,” the meteorologist said. “It’s been notably colder for the last month or so but we can expect a shift once May comes around.”

On Wednesday, April, 19, an overnight low of -7.1 C was recorded in Princeton.

That’s the coldest temperature recorded in the town on April 19, in 30 years.

But although a shift for the warm is near, the meteorologist says the town’s dry spell is here to stay for at least a little longer.

“Next week (starting Monday, April 24) will be warm and dry in Princeton,” Lee said. “We are seeing those warmer temperatures and that’s a good thing when we have moisture so thunderstorms can develop can bring precipitation.”

According to Environment Canada’s short-term forecasts, temperatures in Princeton at the end of April could hit highs of up to 21 C.

READ MORE: Snow levels below normal in most of B.C.


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