EDITORIAL: Extreme weather events are here to stay

It will take planning and management to cope in the coming years

The extreme heat at the end of June and the beginning of July has B.C. sizzling.

On June 27, the temperature in Lytton, reached 46.6 C. This was not just the hot spot in Canada for the day, but it set a new record for the hottest temperature ever recorded anywhere in this country.

That record was broken the next day when the temperature reached 47.9 C. That’s hotter than the temperature in Phoenix, Arizona; Cairo, Egypt; Khartoum, Sudan; Tehran, Iran and New Delhi, India on that day. These are all places known for high temperatures.

Around the province, new record high temperatures have been set in many towns and cities. In many parts of the province, temperatures were 10 to 15 C above seasonal norms. On Monday, July 12, Kamloops and the North Thompson had experienced 18 straight days of temperatures over 30 C.

Communities around the province have set up cooling stations to help those who need a reprieve from the heat.

If temperatures are this hot at the beginning of the summer, what can we expect in late July or early August, when historical average temperatures are warmer than they are at the beginning of July?

Extreme weather conditions will happen from time to time, but some of the conditions in recent years have been concerning.

In 2017 and 2018, many parts of the B.C. Interior saw significant flooding in spring, followed by the two worst wildfire seasons on record.

And, looking back a few years earlier, 2003 saw weather extremes including a summer drought and a significant wildfire season including the 25,460 hectare McLure Wildfire that raged up the North Thompson, and decimated Louis Creek.

That year, Kelowna had 44 consecutive days with no rainfall, and other parts of the province also experienced dry conditions. Then, in fall, heavy rainfall and flooding were followed by unseasonably cold weather in early November.

As of July 13, there were 0ver 300 wildfires burning in B.C., 28 per cent of them out of control.

None of this is normal.

Weather anomalies will happen, but there are some concerns that the unusual weather events we are witnessing today are happening more frequently than in the past. Some climate scientists have suggested we could see more weather extremes in the coming years.

Unusual weather conditions can affect our province’s agriculture and water management systems, as well as our quality of life.

It will take wise planning and management to cope with extreme weather events in the future.

– Black Press Media