With all the rain, wind, clouds and cool temperatures that have been overshadowing the Okanagan Valley for the past weeks and even months, it seems 2011 might go down as having the longest February on record.
And so for a city that typically has its hotels, restaurants and beaches filled with tourists by Canada Day, word from Environment Canada that more storm tracks, troughs and systems are heading Penticton’s way is certainly not good news.
“(This year) has been just dreadful. There is no question about it,” said EC meteorologist David Jones. “Normally in the summertime the storms weaken and the storm tracks migrate northwards, leaving us with sunny warm weather. But this year the storm tracks have sagged south.
“They have been pretty vigorous and so we’re getting an unusual number of weather systems sweeping through the area keeping conditions cool, wet and cloudy.”
Jones said there is currently another massive low weather system that has swept down the coast and into the Southern Interior, bringing more thunderstorms, downpours and high winds to the valley. And once that goes, he said, the southern part of the province will likely still be stuck in the path of another system right through until Thursday of next week.
“This is pretty unusual for mid July and in my memory it has been one of the worst going back for many years,” said Jones. “I really can’t remember the last time we got started this late.”
Longtime Penticton resident Bob Morrison can’t remember a worse start either.
“It has absolutely been a bad spring and summer,” Morrison said. “In the last 50 years I have been here I’ve never seen a summer as bad as this, ever.”
The 40-year owner of Park Royal RV Resort said with the economy still weak and the summer season still not here, his business is down 20 per cent.
Working at a jewelry and necklace tent store at Okanagan Beach which counts on walk-by traffic, Paige Graves said business is definitely down there too.
“It has been really slow,” said Graves. “It hasn’t been nice out so no one is going outside and there has been barely anybody at the beach.
“Usually at this time of the year the beach is packed. On a good day, maybe you could see a little bit of sand.”
Indeed, sitting on the grass near the jewelry tent in lawn-chairs, Dan and Debbie Gherman of Surrey, B.C. can see plenty of the sand — now cold and somewhat moist — where they usually spend their yearly summer holiday sun-tanning.
“It is a little disappointing because we were looking forward to the sun,” said Debbie, who has been coming to Penticton since she was a kid. “Normally we would be down there lying on the beach and (dipping) in the water.
“I am never this white in July.”
Gherman said she has been checking the weather report every day.
“Hopefully it will get better and we can enjoy at least one day of sunshine before we have to go home,” she said. “It is still better than Surrey though. If we were in Surrey right now we wouldn’t be out in shorts.”
Penticton and Wine Country Tourism marketing manager Jessie Campbell said she suspects many of Penticton’s potential visitors, like the Ghermans, are watching the weather reports.
“Certainly this has been a softer season during the week but our strategies are planned long-term and we are actually seeing stronger visits to our website than we have in years past,” said Campbell. “So it is very possible that people are holding off on their vacation plans until the weather breaks.
“With lots of great events and activities that are going on in the area we are still feeling very confident we have lots to offer people making a trip. So all that we can do is hope that the weather turns around soon.”