Expect another dry West Coast winter

a combination of El Niño and The Blob may not bring good news for the local mountains

  • Aug. 31, 2015 11:00 a.m.

Erin Haluschak

Record staff

The Blob is coming.

And if it brings its meteorological sibling with it, the next few months – even year – could mean slightly warmer temperatures and less precipitation.

Environment Canada meteorologist Lisa Coldwells said a combination of El Niño and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation – otherwise known as The Blob – may not bring good news for the local mountains.

“It generally means temperatures on the whole tend to be slightly warmer; the mean temperatures may be up one or two degrees.”

She explained the El Niño effect could make an impact during the winter months in the Comox Valley and may influence local weather all the way into next fall.

It could also mean slightly less – around 10 per cent – precipitation for the region.

The effect could also mean freezing levels are elevated, which, with less snowpack and a faster melting period, could affect future watersheds.

For BC Hydro’s Stephen Watson, stakeholder engagement and communications officer, the predicted weather patterns may transpire into a flood risk management operation.

“Warmer temperatures are forecasted this fall and winter and that may mean rain storms versus snow accumulations in the mountains – basically what’s happened the last two winters. We could be in flood risk management operations come November. It can change quickly.”

He explained the Comox Lake reservoir has been dropping by about two to three centimetres per day throughout the summer. The water discharge from the Comox dam is about 7.5 m3/s, and the water is providing for fish habitat and the Comox Valley Regional District’s domestic water supply.

BC Hydro shut down the generating station mid-June.

“The reservoir is currently at about 132.85 metres, and just under two metres from where things can get more disconcerting in terms of how much water can be released downstream … because the dam is located about 300 metres downstream of the reservoir on the Puntledge River and a river channel forms from the reservoir to the dam.”

Despite the rain throughout the weekend, Watson said it didn’t do much for lake water levels.

“The wet weather that was forecasted didn’t actually transpire as hoped. Looking at the situation on Monday morning, the Comox Lake reservoir has barely responded to the limited wet weather the past few days and now the weather forecast looks to be dry again after Tuesday.”

The drought situation has not changed.

Environment Canada is predicting Tuesday and Wednesday to have a 60 per cent chance of showers with highs of 16 and 14 C respectively.