Local fire threat, drought concerns persist

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C — Environment Canada’s numbers didn’t include what’s been received since midnight today, and there’s nothing definitive on how much the cooler, wetter weekend weather helped local area firefighters.

But, it seems safe to say it wasn’t as much as the forecasts at the end of the last work week suggested.

The precipitation total posted at the local airport weather station for Friday, Saturday and Sunday was only two millimetres. It left the month-to-date total at only 10.3 millimetres, or about half of the April norm of 20, with six days left in the month.

The weekend total was also far less than what it was for the same period last year, because on the April 22 to 24, 2015, the airport station posted a total of 15.9 millimetres of rain, and 19.9 centimetres of snow; resulting in a three day precipitation total of 35.8 millimetres.

The three days were the key to a trio of monthly totals that were all more than double the April averages. Precipitation totals in each of the first four months of 2015 all exceeded the norms, with the total post for that period at 175.6 millimetres — once again nearly double the norm of 88.1.

However, this year only March has so far exceeded its monthly average, and in the last 12 months, September was the only other month when it occurred.

As a result, the year-to-date total precipitation is only 73.4 millimetres and since the end of last September it is only 132.4 — compared to the average for the seven month period through April, of 170.1.

So for the local farming community, long term drought worries persist, since from the end of last fall’s harvest to the beginning of this year’s spring seeding. When compared to the area norm, the airport station numbers to date show a deficit of almost 38 millimetres — or about an inch and half below average.

To further emphasize this year’s El Nino impact in this part of the country one only need go a little further north to Dawson City — where the Yukon River break-up occurred at 11:15 a.m. on Saturday. The earliest the river has let go since record keeping began in 1896, and only the tenth time in 120 years the river at Dawson has flowed freely in April.