A deluge of rain that drenched the B.C. Southern Interior over the weekend decreased the fire risk in a region known for catastrophic wildfires.
Environment Canada says cities such as Kelowna (49 millimetres) and Summerland (47 millimetres) have recorded an average full month of rain in the first two weeks of June alone.
READ MORE: June snowfall on the Okanagan Connector
The Okanagan Valley recorded between 22 and 24 millimetres of rain from Friday to Sunday as several areas saw the coldest-ever daytime highs on record.
While the significant rainfall has elevated flood risk in parts of the province, it’s good news on the wildfire front.
“I know this is going to give my fire weather forecaster colleagues a sigh of relief,” said Doug Lundquist, a meteorologist with Environment Canada.
“This is what we hope for — we want June to be rainy to set the stage for the rest of summer. On the flip side, we want the rain to be low enough that we don’t get flooding,” he said.
The B.C. Southern Interior has been spared from widespread flooding seen in past years. Flooding has been limited to localized areas, such as Grand Forks, Cawston and Enderby.
A high streamflow advisory remains in effect for the Boundary, North Thompson and Central-North Okanagan regions, including Kelowna’s Mission Creek and Mill Creek.
Meanwhile, the fire danger rating remains “very low” for most of B.C.’s Southern Interior.
“The more rain we get, the deeper we can get that moisture and the deeper the moisture gets, the longer it takes to dry out, so the rains we’ve had for the first half of June are what we really hope for for this time of year from a fire weather perspective,” Lundquist said.
The worst of the wet weather is over, according to Lundquist, with a chance of showers to start the week before temperatures could soar into the high 20s later this week.
“Warming up throughout the week as a ridge of high pressure moves in reaching, perhaps, the high 20s Thursday, Friday, Saturday, so it looks mighty nice for the end of the workweek.”
Looking back, the summer of 2017 will be remembered as one of the worst wildfire seasons in British Columbia’s history.
Over 1.2 million hectares of land burned, costing $649 million in fire suppression efforts and roughly 65,000 people were displaced, with the Cariboo region hit hardest.
In 2018, record-breaking temperatures and severe lightning storms in late July caused another bad wildfire season with 1.3 million hectares of land burned, a new record.
The 2019 wildfire season in B.C. was quieter than anticipated, with 825 wildfires burning 21,000 hectares of land.
Overall fire activity in 2019 was well below the 10-year average and was the second-least-active wildfire season since 2011.