With the forecast predicting nothing but sunshine and a ridge of high pressure expected to stick around for at least a few days after Canada Day, summer has begun at last for Sea to Sky and the Lower Mainland. It comes at the end of an unusual June that was darker, colder, and drier than normal.
David Jones, a forecaster for the Environment Canada Weather Office, is estimating that it’s been one of the coldest springs on record in the province.
“We don’t have a good explanation why, weather is made up of extreme seasons, extreme days and extreme events, but we can measure that it was cooler, cloudier and less sunny,” he said.
It has also been drier, pushing local fire hazard ratings from moderate to high, and prompting campfire bans throughout the southwest of the province.
Environment Canada has recorded just 12 millimetres of rain in the first 23 days of June, and there is no rain in the forecast to Canada Day. In a typical June the average is about 58 mm, or almost five times as much rain as was recorded.
That is unusual, says Jones, given the cool and cloudy temperatures.
“The first 10 days of June were the coldest on record in Vancouver, and also the coldest in Agassiz going back to 1892, so that’s significant,” said Jones. “For Whistler and Pemberton, we could be seeing one of the top-10 coldest late springs on record.
“As far as sunshine goes, we’re missing a lot of days so far in June. Vancouver has recorded 118 hours of bright sunshine in June, when the normal amount is 230 hours, or almost twice as much. Up to June 23, we would expect around 176 hours, so we’re a good 60 hours behind in bright sunshine, or a good week of sunny days.”
Average temperatures were also significantly cooler. The mean temperature in June, 24 hours a day, was 11 degrees Celsius, compared to an average of 13 degrees.
“Two degrees below normal over 23 days is significant because you usually get these spikes and valleys and everything evens out,” said Jones. “Daily, two degrees is nothing but over 23 days it means things were significantly cooler.”
For Whistler, the temperature only rose above 20 degrees five days out of the first 23 days, when the typical average for the month is 13. By the time the month is over Whistler should be a lot closer to the average, but the first 15 days of the month were much cooler than usual.
May and April were more typical, although May was a little darker and a little warmer than usual, with about 25 mm less rain. April precipitation and temperatures were more or less normal.
The good news is that the weather patterns are changing, and the forecast is more typical of summer for the first week of July. Beyond that it’s hard to predict, says Jones, who stays away from long range forecasting.
“In the spring there was a lot of scapegoating of La Nina, it was La Nina this and that to explain why it was so cold. However, the weather is always a combination of many factors, it’s never just one thing — if it was it would be easy to predict. La Nina did have a role to play in our cold spring, but I doubt it was very much.”