Level two drought in east Peace

With Environment Canada now calling for no more rain for the rest of the month, the most dreaded weather word in the local farm and ranch community vocabulary is back for the second consecutive year.

However, It turns out drought is a difficult thing to define, since there are both, different kinds, and different levels, of it.

The BC River Forecast Centre and Environment Canada share the responsibility of determining it, and they also draw on data from Agriculture Canada.

We spoke this week to hydrologist, Toby Gardner, and meteorologist, Matt MacDonald, and among other things found out this area, by BC drought definition, is in the East Peace.

We also found out, there are four different kinds of drought: Hydrological drought, meteorological drought, agricultural drought, and socio-economic drought, and on top of that there are four levels of drought with level four being the worst.

Based on the latest River Forecast Centre information, which includes input from Agriculture Canada, the east Peace is currently at level two, but now very close to level three.

In addition, all of Environment Canada’s seasonal climate models are quite consistent in suggesting that the dry conditions will persist, and the weather agency says at least 50 to 60 millimetres are already needed in the final week of July just to bring the area back to close to normal.

In fact, we note again, June and July are traditionally the heaviest local area precipitation months, and together they annually average 140.8 millimetres.

However, last year the local airport weather station posted only 76.6 for the two months, and this year it’s recorded even less than that, at 68.9.

The real scary scenario is a continuation of that trend, because if we get less in August this year, than we did last year, we’ll get less than three millimetres.