Autumn-like rainstorm headed to Metro Vancouver
An unseasonably strong blast of wet weather is sweeping towards the Lower Mainland, forecasted to bring nearly a month’s worth of rain over a 36-hour period as it moves inland to areas that have been ravaged by wildfires in recent years.
"It’s definitely out of season for mid-July," said Environment Canada meteorologist Matt MacDonald, noting the rainfall is expected to start late Tuesday afternoon. "It’s comparable to the storms we see in the fall."
Vancouver typically gets only 35 millimetres of rain for the entire month of July but MacDonald says the city could get 10-20 millimetres tonight and into tomorrow.
The North Shore could get up to 40 millimetres in that period, nearly the amount it typically sees all July, with the chance for some minor flooding.
Across the region, June saw only 49 per cent of the normal rainfall for that month and January through May recorded 70 per cent of the normal precipitation.
"Overall this is a good news story, because areas like Vancouver Island have been very dry and overall there’s been a longer-term precipitation deficit that is pronounced," he said.
The BC Wildfire Branch has been unusually quiet this week – a stark contrast to the state of emergency and dozens of homes already destroyed during the same time period in 2017.
"We've seen about 475 wildfires to date, which is a little bit below our average of about 500 and we've only seen about 11,000 hectares burn this year, compared to this time last year we'd already seen over 47,000 hectares burn," explained fire information officer Kyla Fraser.
She said while some B.C. firefighters are in Alberta, the Yukon and Alaska, with another crew sent to Ontario just today, there are crews on standby in the province to act on wildfires the moment dry conditions return.
The majority of the province is currently classified as being at low risk of wildfires.
"Even though we're seeing low fire activity right now we do still have a few more months of summer ahead of us and it's not unusual," said Fraser. "We have had seasons in the past where wildfire activity has continued well into September."
MacDonald warned that hot, dry weather is forecast to return for the second half of July and continue through August.
So while the incoming rainfall is noteworthy for the average July, it’s still making up for drought-like conditions thus far this year.
"Across most parts of the province it's been a really dry winter and spring," he said.
"This incoming rain is going to help alleviate those conditions but it's still going to be big precipitation deficits for a long amount of time so it's really only a few drops in a comparatively empty bucket."