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2021 was Kelowna’s driest year ever: Environment Canada

Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton all saw their precipitation numbers cut in half for the entire year
Kelowna not only had its driest year on record in 2021 but also had its third-warmest year ever. (Aaron Hemens - Black Press Media)

Environment Canada meteorologist Doug Lundquist thought he had seen it all after 34 years on the job — and then 2021 happened.

Not even the extreme cold recorded during the better half of December could stop 2021 from being the third hottest year ever in Kelowna.

That’s why it will always be an unforgettable summer for the meteorologist.

“What’s noteworthy is Kelowna had its driest ever year and its third warmest,” Lundquist said.

“I don’t remember ever having a summer like that. There were so many nights when it was so warm. I’ve done this job for 34 years and I don’t remember a year like 2021.”

It wasn’t only extreme heat, however, that stood out to Lundquist in 2021 — it was the lack of precipitation that fell to the ground throughout the year across the Okanagan.

Kelowna recorded 206 millimetres of precipitation in 2021, more than half of the 387 millimetres it usually sees on average.

“That is really dry for us,” Lundquist said.

“Even Penticton was drier than average and they recorded 231 millimetres. All of the Southwest Okanagan was much hotter and drier than usual, even with the colder than average December.”

READ MORE: Meteorologist looks back at extreme heat in June: ‘Worst weather event of my career’

Kelowna was joined by Prince George for having its driest year ever on record in B.C., according to Environment Canada.

“What’s outstanding was that records in Kelowna go back to 1969 and in Vernon, they go back to 1904,” Lundquist explained. “So in about 120 years, there’s only been three years in that span that have been drier in Vernon. It was an extraordinarily hot and dry year, particularly in Kelowna and Vernon.”

Year-long temperatures in Vernon, Penticton and Kelowna were all about one to two degrees warmer on average in 2021. But in the immediate, warmer-than-average temperatures don’t appear to be returning very soon.

Lundquist added that as of the first week of January, Environment Canada is projecting the colder than usual temperatures to stick around throughout the month of March.

“For the next few months, we’re still forecasting colder than average weather in the Okanagan,” he said.

READ MORE: Snow and more below-normal temperatures on its way to the Okanagan: Environment Canada


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