CBC Radio in Kelowna expressed the sentiment today that we’ve all been thinking: surely this is one of the wettest falls on record. It’s hard to argue against that! September was wet, and November is shaping up to be extremely wet down the home stretch — and yet, they have nothing on October.
While last month failed to set many precipitation records in terms of total precipitation, the number of days with precipitation shattered records all over the southern third of British Columbia.
Environment Canada defines a precipitation day as one that sees at least 1 mm of precipitation. British Columbia is a diverse province that varies from an average of about 4.5 days/October in the South Okanagan to over 24 days of precipitation on Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands).
Interestingly enough, the north and central coast along with the far northwest part of the province saw well below average precipitation days. For example, the Langara lighthouse on the northern tip of Haida Gwaii, which typically averages 24.3 days of precipitation in October, only recorded 15 days in 2016 — the 3rd fewest days since records began in 1936.
They can’t afford to be smug up there, however, for Langara is one of the few places to ever experience 30 joyous days of precipitation in October. Now that is wet!
The map below shows the entire list of locations in BC matching Langara’s October record. The most recent occurrence of 30 October precipitation days comes from 2005 when both the Nootka Lightstation and Estevan Point managed just a single day of relief from the rain. But that’s not the worst of it because Estevan Point in 1963 and Pine Island in 1990 recorded 1mm or more for the entire 31 days of October.
While the remote, super wet locations were not setting new records in 2016, the more populated areas of the province were. Courtney, Powell River, Campbell River and a number of other stations in the area recorded 27 days of precipitation. All of them were new records. Estevan Point also recorded 27 days, but fell well short of its record.
The south coast and the southern interior were hit the hardest in October. Even places that average under 5 days per October managed to record more than double that amount.
Here are some places that set new records in October:
- Chemainus with 22 days (old record set in 1967).
- The Campbell River airport managed to receive 25 days with precipitation, 2 more than the 1967 record. It was even wetter on the outskirts of the city with 27 days.
- Comox with 26 days (old record of 21 days set in 1967).
- Malahat with 24 days (old record of 19 days set in 2014).
- Nanaimo with 23 days of rain in October (old record of 22 set in 968).
- North Cowichan with 23 days (old record of 19 set in 2014).
- Saanichton with 21 days (tied the 1967 record).
- Shawnigan Lake, with records stretching back to 1910, recorded 22 days of precipitation — 1 more than the previous record set in 1967.
- Victoria (YXX) with 21 days (tied the 1975 record).
Islands around Vancouver Island:
- Galiano with 24 days of precipitation (old record of 19 days set in 1975).
- Saturna Island with 9 days (old record of 18 days set in 1985).
- Ballenas Island with 25 days (old record of 22 days set in 1975)
- Fanny Island and Cortez Island both recorded 27 days of precipitation.
- Merry Island with 24 days of precipitation (old record of 23 set in 1967).
- Pender Harbour with 26 days (old record of 22 days set in 2005).
- Powell River with 27 days (old record of 25 days set in 1967).
- Sechelt with 21 days (old record of 18 days set in 1967).
- Whistler with 24 days (old record of 23 days set in 2005).
Greater Vancouver – Fraser Valley:
- Cloverdale with 24 days (old record of 19 days set in 2007).
- Tsawwassen with 23 days (tied the old record set in 1967).
- Fort Langley with 23 days (old record of 20 days set in 2007).
- Mission with 24 days (tied the old record from 1967).
- Vancouver (YVR) with 23 days (tied old record from 1967).
- Hedley with 15 days (old record of 13 days set in 1997).
- Okanagan Centre with 15 days (tied old record set in 1985).
- Osoyoos with 12 days (tied old record set in 1967).
- Peachland with 15 days (beat old record set in 2012).
- Penticton with 12 days (tied old record set in 1967).
- Summerland with 13 days (tied old record set in 1950).
- Midway with 16 days (old record of 14 days set in 2009).
- Castlegar with 19 days (tied old record set in 1975).
- Nelson with 21 days (old record of 18 set in 1997).
- Cranbrook with 17 days (old record of 16 days set in 1947).
- Sparwood with 17 days (old record of 15 days set in 1990).
- Wasa with 15 days (old record of 14 days set in 1950).
- Ashcroft with 9 days (old record of 8 days set in 1967).
- Merritt with 10 days (tied old record of 10 days set in 1997).
- Red Lake with 13 days (tied old record from 2009).
- Blue River with 25 days (old record of 22 days set in 1967).
In addition to these records, many other areas achieved near record setting precipitation days in October, from Fort St. John southward. The truly impressive figure from October in the Peace River area around Fort St. John was the snowfall. Chetwynd, for example, was the snowiest place in the entire country with almost 100cm of snow, but that’s for another discussion.