Sweltering June breaks Cowichan weather records

Cowichan’s hot, dry June broke all local weather records.

According to Environment Canada meteorologist, Matt MacDonald, "in terms of temperatures, you had some pretty significant records in the Cowichan Valley. It’s one thing to beat daily records but when you beat a monthly record, that’s pretty outstanding." June 2015 was the warmest June on record in North Cowichan.

"The average temperature was 18.4 degrees compared to the normal of 15.3. That’s almost three degrees warmer; it’s incredible. The average in Duncan was a little cooler at 17.9 but equally the warmest on record for June," he said.

It was also another extremely dry month, which is not normal in this season.

"Duncan only reported 4.2 mm of rain this month. We often refer to June as ‘June-uary’ because we typically see these upper low pressure systems that become detached from the jetstream and can stay parked over the area for days, sometimes weeks. June is usually showery. There are an average of 10 days with rain in June and this month we only saw three in the Cowichan Valley."

Even the rain that fell was negligible, said MacDonald, describing 4.2 mm as "visually about the thickness of a nickel".

The normal amount of precipitation in Duncan is 36.7 mm for the month of June.

"That means you only got 10-12 per cent of normal rain this month. And that’s on the heels of an extremely dry May that was record breaking in terms of precipitation."

The Cowichan Valley is only part of a much larger area being hit by these extreme conditions.

"All of southwestern B.C. has been extremely dry and warm. It’s been a record breaking dry and warm spell that’s lasted more or less for two months."

This recent heat wave set several daily records in Island areas like the Malahat and Campbell River, primarily on Saturday, June 27, which was a really warm one.

"We got up to the mid-to-low 30s across the Island. The hot spot on Saturday was Port Alberni with 36.6 degrees. And it’s only June," MacDonald said.

Heat waves occur here almost every summer but typically they come in the second half of July and the beginning of August.

"To see a heat wave this early is pretty exceptional and I think it’s an indication of what’s to come this summer," he said.

A major factor in the consistency of hot-weather forecasts comes from what scientists are calling The Blob. The Blob is sitting off the west coast of Vancouver Island. "It’s a mass of water that’s 1,000 km by 1,000 km and 100 metres deep, and it’s three to four degrees warmer than normal. That blob of water was first noticed in the fall of 2013 and it’s been gradually strengthening. The reason for it is in the last two winters we haven’t seen big intense storms with winds and waves that mix that water. That Blob is injecting the atmosphere with a considerable amount of heat and because all of our weather more or less comes in from the west, that explains the temperature side of things.

"From a precipitation point of view, we’ve just been blocked with a big high pressure pattern that just doesn’t want to budge. The precipitation forecasts for the next two weeks offer no relief in sight," he said.

According to the federal government’s Climate and Weather report, Shawningan Lake’s temperature of 33.5 C recorded June 27 was the hottest around the Valley recently. It was also hotter than last year’s June high of 25 C and even beat 2013’s 31.5 C on that sweltering June 30 of 2013.

In North Cowichan, June 27 was also the month’s hottest day, with the mercury reaching 33.1 C. Duncan also reached 33 degrees on June 27, beating the 32.5 C registered on local thermometers on June 26, 2006.