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'Things haven't really let up': B.C. communities set low rainfall records as drought persists

Two cities in the Okanagan recorded their driest summer since the early 1900s, according to the most recent data from Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Armel Castellan, a warning preparedness meteorologist with the organization, said precipitation levels in Penticton and Vernon fell below historical averages. The data shows that Penticton saw only eight millimeters of rain over the last three months.

“Below 15 per cent of normal precipitation, which even for the Okanagan is a remarkable thing because they should be above 100, even 130 millimeters for the three-month average, but they were down into essentially single-digit millimeters fallen,” he said. “Things haven’t really let up.”

Julius Bloomfield, the mayor of Penticton, said it’s been a challenging summer as the community faces level-five drought conditions, but that residents have remained resilient.

“We're feeling it here, no surprises at all," he said.

Officials have voiced warnings all summer about the province’s unprecedented drought, pleading with residents to conserve water. At a news conference Wednesday, Emergency Management Minister Bowinn Ma called the situation a "sleeping giant" of a natural disaster.

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s data also shows that Fort Nelson and Prince George had their second driest summer, while Metro Vancouver received nearly half the rainfall it usually sees.

“Just below 50 percent of normal, which is certainly a dry summer no matter how you look at that,” Castellan said.

Castellan said the province should remain prepared for droughts and wildfires as he anticipates these extreme weather events to become more frequent and intense in the future.

“We may end up looking back on these last five, six years and think that those were relatively benign compared to what’s coming,” he said. Top Stories

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