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B.C. rainstorms to usher in fall, alleviate drought conditions

Much-needed rain is in the forecast for the south coast of B.C. while the northern Interior will likely have to wait longer.
Environment Canada is signalling a shift in the season for British Columbia as rain comes in a band of storms next week.

It’s going to be a wet start to fall on British Columbia’s south coast and parts of the Interior as a series of rainstorms begins to pass through on Sunday through to at least Wednesday, bringing relief to drought-plagued water reservoirs.

“We’re getting a much more active weather pattern for next week,” said meteorologist Alyssa Charbonneau of Environment and Climate Change Canada, the federal weather forecasting agency.

“Storms this month have largely hit the northwest side of the province and those that have passed over the southwest have been weak, bringing only light rain.

“All of a sudden, we’ve got that familiar refrain of showers and rain, showers and rain in the Vancouver forecast for next week. So, it’s going to be a big shift,” said Charbonneau.

It remains unclear how much the storms will punch their way past the Coastal and Cascade mountains, into the Interior, said Charbonneau.

“It does also look like some of it might make its way to parts of the Interior of B.C. that are quite dry, but it's going to depend on where you are, how much you might see,” she said.

Meanwhile, the northeast, which remains stubbornly dry, won’t get the same reprieve.

“The place that we're really looking at, you know, would be the Fort Nelson region down to B.C. Peace. And how much are we going to see from that? I would say, potentially, not a lot,” said Charbonneau.

The Lower Mainland can expect anywhere from 30 mm of rain to 60 mm, through Tuesday, said Charbonneau, whereas mountains could get 100 mm.

Metro Vancouver reservoirs remain in the “normal” range of volume; however, they are on the low side and below 2015 levels, which spiked in September with significant rainfall then.

Dry conditions have carried on for the past 12 months, since last fall’s significant drought that lasted into November.

From Oct. 1, 2022, to Sept. 20, 2023, Vancouver International Airport has seen 826 mm of total precipitation. That compares to a normal of 1,189 mm per year, noted Charbonneau.

Will next week’s rain be a sign of things to come this fall? Charbonneau said fall tends to be the “trickiest” season to project a mid-range forecast.

Any predictions she does have are to be taken “with a grain of salt,” however Charbonneau hinted at “normal conditions” with a spike in warmer weather in mid-October.

“We are in El Niño conditions now. And they are projected to continue through this winter. For British Columbia, where we tend to see those impacts from El Niño is more late fall, and really after Christmas. So, unfortunately, it doesn't give us much help in the fall forecast,” she said.

“El Niño tends to bring milder winters to British Columbia; it can be mild and wet, it can be mild and dry. So, it's not as good of an indicator in terms of precipitation for B.C, but it will definitely be milder,” added Charbonneau.

Saturday marks the beginning of astrological fall (autumn equinox) but meteorologists such as Charbonneau acknowledge Sep.1 as the start to the season.

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