Rainfall Warning Thresholds in Canada

Previously we have discussed snowfall and heat warnings in Canada and how grossly inconsistent they are across the country.

Fortunately, Environment Canada is much more realistic when it comes to setting rainfall warning thresholds. Such warnings are season dependent, but for today’s exercise I am using “Table 14. Alerting parameters Environment Canada uses for issuing a Long Duration Rainfall Warning in the Summer.

Graphically, the table is represented as follows:


Unlike Environment Canada’s heat warnings, this map actually makes sense. Basically, the country is divided into three zones (excluding northern Quebec where warnings aren’t issued):

  1. The rainiest portions of coastal British Columbia.
  2. The British Columbia interior dry belt.
  3. The rest of Canada.
Posted in Climate, Geography | Tagged | 2 Comments

Was 2017 Really the Hottest July-August Ever in Kelowna, BC?


I saw this article today, and thought it was a bit strange that they would make this claim.

Typical of the media. They will tease you with some truthful facts, but just like a Donald Trump tweet, they don’t stop there. They can’t resist the temptation to add in some “alternative facts” to make the article click-bait material.

In short, the article makes two claims:

  1. 2017 was the driest summer on record (June-August).
  2. 2017 was the hottest July-August on record.

On the first point they are indeed correct. 2017 was by far the driest summer on record in Kelowna.

But Castanet could not stop there. It had to add in the temperature for good measure.

Both July and August established new benchmarks for temperature and precipitation, making them the warmest, and driest ever recorded.

However, it should be noted Kelowna records have only been kept since 1969. Data has been collected since 1908 in Penticton and 1900 in Vernon.

Environment Canada meteorologist Alyssa Charbonneau says the average temperature in August was 22.2 C, more than three degrees above the norm.

Given the reference to 1969, they would be referring to the airport since that’s when that station was first established, but every weather buff knows that the airport is located in a frost hollow where the cold air pools at night. While the daytime temperatures are similar to the surrounding parts of the city, the nighttime temperatures are on average three or more degrees cooler than other weather stations in and around the city.

When Environment Canada states that the July-August temperature was 22.2°C, they are referring to the mean temperature (the average between the daily highs and lows). Additionally, this figure is for the University of British Columbia Okanagan (UBCO) weather station, which records much warmer nights than the airport.

The second paragraph in the above quote implies that Penticton and Vernon didn’t set records because they have data from before 1969, but that’s not why. In fact, there are several recent years warmer than 2017 including 2003 and 1998. The only reason Kelowna was “warmer” in 2017 is that this article incorrectly compared a cold weather station from the past against a warm location from the present.

This would be equivalent to moving your city’s airport uphill 1,000 feet, and then claiming that you’ve had a cold summer because the temperature at the new location was cooler than the average of the old location.

There’s not a single weather station in the Okanagan that was warmer in 2017 than 1998, and that includes the airport.

The UBCO station is a new station, so it wasn’t around in 1998, but the airport station along with the Okanagan Centre station were in existence. And in both cases, they were much warmer in 1998.

Okanagan Centre averaged 23.3°C in 2017 and 24.2°C in 1998. Similarly, the Kelowna airport averaged 20.6°C in 2017 versus 21.1°C in 1998.



Posted in Climate | 2 Comments

The True Source of Religious Discrimination in Canada

How the Patriarchy Promotes Religious Discrimination, Hate, and Violence

by Every 3rd Day Feminism

You will hear people say that “correlation does not imply causation” as if strong correlation has nothing to do with causation, but make no mistake about it, these people who invoke this phrase are ignorant about their white privilege. They will share endless memes about eating pork and loving bacon without realizing the very act of sharing insensitive memes causes violence and oppression toward the the most vulnerable groups in society.

I opened up Facebook today only to discover yet another hateful meme:


Not only is this meme offensive to vegans, it’s disgusting and hurtful to Muslims and Jews. You may as well post the N-word all over your Facebook for your black friends to discover.

The Patriarchy in Canada hates women and non-Christians. It’s not that it loves bacon more than other types of food, but rather, it just wants to promote Islamophobia and other forms of nativist bigotry against the most vulnerable of Canadians; pork  is the most effective way to viciously malign minorities.

The Patriarchy is a subconscious force in society embedded so deep in the subconscious that it’s almost too subtle to detect. Thus, most of us don’t even realize we’re promoting hate and violence when we share bacon memes.

The damage from bacon bigotry is far worse that anyone realizes. If we scale for population, 96% of all religious hate crimes in Canada are targeted toward the two religions that don’t eat bacon. This correlation is far too strong to not imply causation. To say otherwise is to say that having 96% of climate scientists agreeing on climate change does not imply they’re right.


You might be thinking that there are other factors, but you’d be wrong. About the only thing exclusive to Jews and Muslims is their dislike of bacon.

The more people share bacon memes, the more discrimination increases. That’s why a recent study showed that hate crimes against Muslims rose by 60% in just one year.

This information should be helpful in your quest for tolerance and understanding. If you remain skeptical of this link between the Patriarchal bacon memes and religious discrimination, then you need to check your privilege.

If you don’t know how to do that, look to the media as an example. The people at Cosmopolitan have checked their privilege. They know that whenever tragedy strikes, they need to find ways to promote Muslims in a positive light, even if that means calling a Sikh a Muslim. Tolerance is more important than truth, so go, and do likewise.



Posted in Feminism, Religion, Satire/Intersectional Feminism | Leave a comment

It’s Been so Dry in British Columbia this Year that the Relative Humidity is Literally Off the Charts!


June is typically the wettest month of the year in much of the interior of BC, but not in 2017. The month that is typified by unstable air, thunderstorms, and rain produced a rainless month for much of the Chilcotin and very little elsewhere in southern British Columbia.

2017 was beyond normal, especially on June 26th when a freak meteorological event pushed the relative humidity below 16% over a wide area several hundred kilometers across. One forestry station at Lone Butte even measured 1%!

This would be world record territory… but, did it really happen?

Before answering that, understand that most weather records never actually happened, not necessarily at individual stations, but at the level of states and provinces. For example, Ontario’s all-time record cold never happened nor did Newfoundland and Labrador’s all-time high temperature (I will explain why in a future post).

And those are temperature records, which are some of the more reliable variables we measure. Precipitation records, snow records, wind records, sunshine records, and others are all subject to error.

Humidity is especially problematic because automated weather stations do no have sensors that can reliably measure the relative humidity below 10%.

That’s not usually a problem since relative humidity readings below 16% are quite rare. If it does happen, it’s typically one or two stations, but on the 26th no less than 17 stations fellow below 16%, and many of those below 10%.

The air was so dry, it was literally off the charts. The humidity map below was generated from BC Forest Service weather stations — a snapshot the data at 1pm PDT. Places like Alexis Creek recorded 7% for the day, but the lowest of the lot was Lone Butte which bottomed out at 1%.



What is relative humidity?

Relative humidity is basically a measurement of the difference between the air temperature and the dew point. Dew point is an expression of the actual (not relative) moisture content of the air. Because air can hold more moisture as it warms, relative humidity drops even as the amount of moisture in the air stays the same. That’s why the relative humidity can be 100% in the morning and 30% in the afternoon without the amount of moisture in the air changing. Similarly, 30% humidity in the summer contains much more moisture in the air than 30% humidity in the winter. Actually, cold winter air is very dry even if it’s at 100%. In other words, when someone tries to tell you that cold moist air along the ocean “feels” colder than interior dry air at the same temperature, they’re mistaken. There’s almost no moisture in the air in either case, and certainly not enough to be able to physically detect. The reason it might “feel” colder on the coast is that there’s more wind.

Environment Canada has a number of stations around the red zone above, but instead of recording the relative humidity, stations will report an error when the temperature difference between the air and dew point is above a certain level. This is because Environment Canada is more concerned with accuracy than Forestry, and since extremely low humidity falls outside of the instrument’s specifications, the number is considered invalid. Given past and current measurements, it seems that the cut-off is 7% humidity.


The above map reveals that drawing a line from Lillooet to Clearwater cuts through an area entirely below 10%, but there are a number of reasons to question any measurement as reliable in that range. Chief among them is that hygrometers are glitchy below 10%.

Skipping Lillooet and Clearwater, I will just focus on Ashcroft and the two Clinton stations. Ashcroft is the most arid place in Canada with very low relative humidity in the summer afternoons, and the nearby village of Clinton has two stations, one of which measured 7% without breaking the hygrometer.

On a normal day the dew point remains stable throughout the day because the moisture in the air remains constant, but on June 26th, the dew point dropped 10 degrees in a single hour at Clinton. The other stations stopped working during the heat of the day because the air was too dry, but it stands to reason their dew points were similar.


Ashcroft is much hotter in the afternoon than Clinton. This is because Clinton is close to 4,000 feet above sea level versus 1,000 ft for Ashcroft.


Back on May 13th, 2012, Ashcroft measured 7%. That was with a dew point of -10°C and an air temperature of 29°C. On June 26th, 2017, the measurement could not be made, but if we assume the dew point matched Clinton’s -13°C figure, and given the measured air temperature of 35°C, the relative humidity can be calculated to be 4%!

This is definitely possible, and would perhaps be a Canadian record, but how about the 1% reading at Lone Butte? Unlike Ashcroft, the plateau on which Lone Butte sits is not arid or semi-arid, so it’s almost certain that this value is due to instrument error. It’s more reasonable to peg the number at 5-7% because the elevation is similar to the Clinton airport. Even still, that’s almost unbelievable at that elevation and latitude.

As we enter into July, we are extremely dry under the scorching sun with high and extreme fire danger across the province, and yet, not a single weather station is recording relative humidity under 16%. That goes to show you how rare and unusual the June 26th event happened to be. Even still, the humidity remains very low, and without change in the weather, we could expect catastrophic wildfires at the drop of a match and lighting bolt or two.



Posted in Climate | 8 Comments

How are heat warnings triggered in Canada?


Over the winter I produced a map showing the thresholds for triggering snowfall warnings in Canada, but now that summer is in full swing, it’s time to do the same for heat.

Environment Canada issued a “special weather statement” for southern British Columbia over the weekend because the temperature was expected to reach 30 to 40 degrees Celsius, but they issued no statement for the Cariboo region of the province even though the forecast was also calling for temperatures in the mid-30s.


My friends in Quesnel and Williams Lake were feeling left out, as they should. The above map gives the false impression that temperature was going to be cooler in the Cariboo than Vancouver and Cranbrook (Williams Lake and Quesnel were 34°C while Cranbrook was 31°C).

But that aside, Environment Canada has set different thresholds across the country for triggering a heat warning, and in addition, they can use their discretion to add warnings in special circumstances — say if it’s the first heat wave of the summer. In this case, they issued a “special weather statement” which is not the same thing as a “warning.” They do not issue heat warnings for most of BC for some reason even if the forecast was calling for 500°C. I guess they figure we’re tough, and can handle it.

Ignoring the fact that places like Cranbrook were never forecast to reach 35°C, it looks likely the red area was generated on account of being the first heat wave of the year. Don’t ask me why Williams Lake didn’t get included in the statement even though it was over 35°C in the valley bottom (the airport 1,000 feet above the city was 34°C).

Environment Canada defines 13 different sets of criteria for triggering a heat warning in Canada. Some make sense, but others should be revised. Why bother listing a threshold for Nunavut when it never gets remotely close to the trigger point (40°C) while not listing one for southern British Columbia where most summers exceed 40°C?

Perhaps the silliest of all is the convoluted criteria set for Vancouver and the South Coast. It takes the average of today’s 2pm temperature at the Vancouver or Abbotsford airports and tomorrow’s forecast high to determine if a warning is warranted. Surely, there’s a better way to trigger a warning!


Posted in Climate | 3 Comments

Okanagan Lake and the Tale of Two Records


Since mid-May, the Okanagan’s most popular news site has been running non-stop with one flood myth after another. I say “myth” because most stories are using mythical numbers.

The number fudging started on May 16th when the mayor of Kelowna went nuclear by warning the public that the lake cannot hold any more water because it’s at “full pool.” This is complete hogwash since the lake has a dam at the south end that regulates the flow of water to ensure “full pool” is exceeded every year.

The major drought of the 1930s forced the provincial government into regulating the flow out of the 100km long Okanagan Lake so that sufficient water would be available throughout the summer for users downstream. The minimum lake level regulators are tasked with achieving at high water is called “full pool.” Since forecasting the amount of freshet (misspelled as frechette by the grammatically challenged media) is difficult, assumptions are made in early spring based upon existing snowpack levels and a worst case scenario for precipitation.

Snowpacks were low over the winter, so the lake was allowed to rise more than would naturally be the case. Then the valley experienced the wettest Spring on record, so full pool was reached early.

And the water has kept on rising.


The projected height was 343m above sea level, and interestingly enough, the Castanet news source claimed that this point would match the all-time record from 1948. Several times between May 20th and May 24th, Castanet continued to claim that the old record was 343 m above sea level.

Then suddenly — just as it became apparent that the lake would shatter the 343m mark — Castanet changed its story by moving the goal posts up to 343.28m, which is just above the new forecast high. The cynic inside of me says that they needed to increase the record so they could milk this story for another week, but maybe there’s a less conspiratory explanation out there. Maybe, but I have my doubts because both numbers are actually wrong.

The official data is posted online for anyone with an internet connection to view. That government data shows the 1948 level peaked at 2.838m. This is relative to the low water line, so you have to add 340.236m (as the real-time data explains). This brings the 1948 level to 343.074m. Therefore, the new record was set already, although we can’t be too confident with that figure either since this government document from 1993 lists the record as 343.13m (see page 16 of report) while this government document from 2000 states the record as 343.25m as per the following screen shot of page 36.


So the government isn’t sure if the actual figure is 343.074m, 343.13m, or 343.25m while the media originally went with 343m only to change it to 343.28m once the first record was met.

Does anyone want to guess what the “real” record will be if the lake ever exceeds 343.28?

NB: You might be thinking that this is just a small town news outlet playing loose with the numbers, but national newspapers like the Globe and Mail are even worse!

UPDATE: The 2017 lake level peaked on June 11th at 343.27m above sea level.

Posted in Climate, Geography | 7 Comments

Speed Kills the Fake News Media

I was Googling something completely unrelated when I came across an article from 2016 that clashes with the government document upon which it’s based.

Here are the two conflicting headlines:


So who’s right?

The media loves spreading the false narrative that speed kills, but also established is the government’s proclivity to spread misinformation. For example, they produced a media release still available on their website promising to increase the speed limit  three years ago, but it never happened. (I should really keep a copy of this government release on my dash just in case I ever get pulled over for speeding along that section of highway 97.)

Given the two contrasting headlines, it might be intuitive to assume the Globe and Mail holds the correct version of events, but as the Speed Kills your Pockebook video rightly points out, increasing the speed limit can actually reduce the number of accidents if the maximum speed is set too low to begin with.


Here are the cold hard facts:

  • On seven sections, the rate of speed decreased and crashes decreased.
  • On 12 sections, the rate of speed increased and crashes decreased.
  • On seven sections, the rate of speed increased and crashes increased.
  • On the remaining seven sections, the data shows that the crash rate increased, despite motorists traveling slower than they did before the speed limits were increased.
  • In two of the sections with increased speeds and increased crashes, the government has since reduced the speed limits.

Assuming that resetting the two speed limits reversed the damage, only five of the remaining 31 sections (16%) experienced increased speeds and increased crashes.

To fairly assess the Globe and Mail article, three questions need to answered:

  1. Do faster speed limits correlate with more car crashes?
  2. Do faster speed limits correlate with more severe crashes?
  3. Do faster speed limits correlate with higher speeds?

The green areas of the above pie chart (39%) represent to highways where higher speeds correlate with more accidents. The remaining 61% show a direct correlation between higher speeds and fewer accidents.

Why raising the speed limits would reduce the average speeds in 42% of the roads raises a few questions about the quality of the data, or at least suggests that the speed changes were marginal.

But assuming the reduced average speeds were related to increased speed limits, and using the 31 highways were speed limits are remaining higher than before, the pie chart is repeated with the dark areas (61%) representing few accidents and the light areas (39%) representing fewer crashes.

Chalk up a win for the government headline for being the accurate headline. The media headline, by contrast, is meant to fuel the false narrative that higher speed limits not only correlate with higher accident rates, but cause more crashes to occur.

The virtue-signally Globe and Mail goes on to cherry-pick quotes to cement the headline into the reader’s mind. Chief among them is this nugget: “We got an 11 per cent, statistically significant increase in injury and fatal collisions following the implementation of the speed limit increase.”

This certainly puts forward the false narrative that raising the speed limit is a bad idea. Had they done the honest thing by completing the quote, the newspaper would have busted its own pet theory.

The data-driven government media release continues: “The UBC modelling is consistent with the 9% increase the province saw on all other British Columbian highways where the speed limits were not raised.

In other words, there’s very little difference between roads with increased speed limits and those without increased limits. The two percentage point difference is much smaller than the 11% given by the Globe and Mail, and likely not statistically significant. It could be because of bad weather during the year or it could be the fact that all the highways with increased limits were all in the south where the population is growing much faster.

Furthermore, it does not determine which of the 33 roads saw the increased fatality rates. My money is on the roads where the speed limits have been reduced.

Reading further into the government source shows that it just gets even worse for the Globe’s argument:

The one-year increase on B.C.’s highways is also consistent with the rising crash and fatality rates in places where speed limits have remained unchanged, as more people take to the road with lower gas prices and as distracted driving rates continue to climb. The United States, for example, saw a 14% increase in fatalities during the first six months of 2015. Oregon alone experienced a 59% spike during this period. Sweden – known for having some of the safest roads in the world – saw a 4% increase in the number of fatalities in 2014.

The media plays an important job in society by holding the government to account for its actions, but that’s no excuse to warp reality and produce fake news. All that does is undermine the media’s effectiveness when the government screws up for real.

Higher speed limits do correlate with higher speeds, but the correlation is not as significant as you’d expect with just 58% of roadways showing higher speeds afterwards while the remain 42% of roads saw decreased average speeds.

Research tells us that speed limits should be set at the 85th percentile of traffic. Since raising the speeds decreased the accident rates, most of the limits were set too low.

The fake news media concluded the opposite.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment