Bienvenue Osoyoos — home of Canada’s driest welcome.
Long recognized as the warmest, driest place in Canada — Osoyoos does, after all, sit in Canada’s pocket desert — the community this season is working extra hard to live up to its moniker.
According to Environment Canada, not a drop of moisture has fallen in the community since June 9 — when a downpour of 3.8 mm was recorded.
“The context is it’s high summer,” explained Trevor Smith, a meteorologist with Environment Canada. “The Okanagan typically goes through a dry spell, but this is a little dryer than normal.”
Historically, believe it or not, the summer season is when Osoyoos receives the lion’s share of its moisture, averaging about 93 mm or precipitation from June through August.
This year, the community has received just 8.8 mm — about nine percent of normal.
“Normally, we would get some thunderstorms to interrupt that dry spell. But we haven’t been getting that this year,” Mr. Smith said.
Despite the lack of precipitation, the Town of Osoyoos doesn’t have any issues with its water supply.
“Our reservoirs are filled from wells that are fed from aquifers,” explained Barry Romanko, the Town’s CAO. “There are no problems with aquifer flows, so we don’t have any water supply issues.”
That being said, he added, “we are still encouraging people to be ‘water wise’ and use water conservation practises.
The hot dry weather isn’t just picking on the South Okanagan.
Drought conditions are raging across the southern interior and the south coast,” Mr. Smith said. In Vancouver, he added, “it will be the driest July and August ever.”
“I guess the best we can hope for is that at least there’s no lightning to start new fires,” he said. “But certainly there’s no precipitation to put out existing fires.”
According to the Okanagan Basin Water Board, some areas outside the Okanagan have moved to Drought Level 3; the Okanagan, as of August 22, remains at Level 2.
That’s due in part to a robust freshet season that left much of the valley flooded.
“(But) after historic highs this spring, Kalamalka, Okanagan, and Osoyoos lakes are nearing average levels.”
So when is more rain expected?
“There are some hints that starting around Sept. 9 or 10, we could get a few millimetres,” Mr. Smith said. “But probably for the next 10 to 14 days we’re not looking at anything significant that would make up that deficit.”
By the way, if you want to know how wet it is in Texas right now, consider this: Houston has received more than 1016 mm of rain since Friday — about what we in the South Okanagan receive over seven years.