British Columbia

B.C.'s hot, dry September broke several records — and October's starting the same way

Seemingly endless hot, dry conditions across much of B.C. broke a number of monthly records in September, according to meteorologists.

Part of Victoria had its driest September on record since 1898

Two bicyclists pass on a seawall.
People on the seawall in Vancouver on Monday. Heat records are continuing to fall across the province as summer conditions refuse to quit. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Seemingly endless hot, dry conditions in B.C. last month broke several records for September, according to meteorologists.

Environment Canada on Monday said weather across the province has so far refused to shift into fall, with little rain and higher-than-normal temperatures.

"It was warmer than normal across every station that we have here for B.C.," said meteorologist Alyssa Charbonneau. "We're certainly feeling like this summer is hanging on."

Charbonneau said Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland saw particularly unusual weather. 

Victoria, Comox and Abbotsford, for example, all had their warmest Septembers on record. 

The mean temperature for Abbotsford in September would usually be 15.3 C, but it was 17.9 C last month.

As for drought conditions, Charbonneau said it was again the South Coast that stood out.

In the Victoria area, weather stations at Gonzales Point and Victoria International Airport reported their first- and second-driest months on record, respectively.

Gonzales Point had 0.4 millimetres of rainfall, breaking a record set in 1898. The airport had just one millimetre.

On the mainland, Vancouver recorded seven millimetres all month, making it the seventh-driest September ever and well under the monthly average of nearly 60 millimetres. 

The weather prompted a warning from the B.C. Wildfire Service about this year's "very unique fire season."

"I would suggest, while we are maintaining this hot, dry, precipitation-free period, fire season is by no means over yet," said Neal McLoughlin, superintendent of the newly formed predictive services unit for B.C.'s Provincial Wildfire Coordination Centre.

No rain likely till mid-October

The warm, dry spell has continued into October, breaking nearly two dozen daily temperature records on Sunday — including 29.3 C in Port Alberni, 28.6 C in Cache Creek and 27.5 C in Abbotsford.

October is usually the fourth-rainiest month of the year in B.C., according to CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe.

A father holds up a child next to the seawall.
The trees in Stanley Park have begun changing colours as fall approaches, despite summer conditions continuing through the month of September. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

So far, meteorologists agree, the region isn't expected to see any rain until mid-month.

"Looking forward, we still have this persistent merge of high pressure and [we're] still expecting above-normal temperatures and dry conditions to continue. Just how long this dry spell will last, we'll just have to wait and see," Charbonneau said.

As for how a warm, dry September will affect the fall, Charbonneau said it depends on how quickly the shift happens whenever it comes.

"If we were to have a very abrupt shift to really heavy rain and the ground hasn't had much ... we won't be able to absorb it as quickly. That could cause a problem," she said.

"But if we see a slow transition into our rainy season, it might not cause as much [of an issue].

"It really depends what the storms end up looking like when they arrive."

with files from The Canadian Press

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