Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wet, Windy weather leaves Podunkians weary

Everybody is talking about the weather these days, what with a November like windstorm ripping through the early hours a few nights ago and the steady drenching of rain of what seems like the last four months, summer seems to be but a rumour these days.

Checking the stats and plotting the graphs, the Daily News found that Rupertites are convinced that this has been the worst summer in recent years, they outlined their findings as the front page story in Wednesday's paper.

Recent 'summer' weather has been cool, even by Rupert's modest standards
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pages one and two

With long-time residents calling the summer of 2008 the worst in Prince Rupert's recent history, The Daily News decided to crunch the numbers and find out if that speculation has any truth to it.
Even people who haven't resided in the rainy city of Prince Rupert can tell you that this is the wettest city in Canada, with an average of 2,500 millimetres of precipitation.

And, as the Canadian municipality with the least amount of annual sunshine, Rupertites take perverse pride in the fact that not everyone is cut out to thrive in the city's climate.

But when it appears people can count the number of warm and sunny days this season on two hands, even beleaguered residents are wondering what happened to the summer?

"Looking at June and July, the maximum temperature we typically see has been below normal," said meteorologist Chris Scott, forecast operations manager at The Weather Network.

"Normally, the daily high is around 16 degrees, and we've been a full degree below for the first 28 days of July. That doesn't seem like a big deal, but when it's over the course of the month, people do sense it.

"There's a big difference when it's 13 and cloudy versus 16 and sunny."

According to more than 40 years of data collected by Environment Canada, the hottest recorded temperature in Prince Rupert during June was on June 20, 1991, when it reached 27.4 degrees Celcius, a good deal hotter than the hottest day of June, 2008 which was 24.3 degrees on the 30th.

July's hottest temperature came on July 30, 1976 at 27.8 degrees Celcius, much hotter than the 19.7 degree high we experienced on July 25, 2008. In contrast, Prince Rupert's coldest June day recorded was in 1963, when on June 7 the temperature dropped to 1.1 degree Celcius - the coldest day in July was 2.8 degrees on Canada Day, 1972.

Scott said looking at precipitation averaged out over the two months in 2008, Prince Rupert hasn't seen a great deal more than usual

"With both months combined, we're slightly above normal in terms of rainfall," said Scott.

"But the statistic that really hits home is that over the course of June and July we've had an extra week of rain, or about seven more days where there's been some precipitation. Combine that extra week of rain with the cooler temperatures, and I think it's right so to say it's been a fairly lousy summer so far."

In June, Prince Rupert only received 108 millimetres of precipitation, which is well under the historical monthly average of 120 millimetres.

However, July has already surpassed it's historical average of 113 with 142 millimetres as of yesterday morning.

The wettest day ever recorded during June in Prince Rupert was June 11, 1987, when the city received 64.2 millimetres of rain. The wettest July day came a year later when it rained 67.2 millimetres on July 23, 1988.

As a city, Prince Rupert can be proud of its performance in many categories that rank Canadian cities by their weather.

Prince Rupert takes home the gold medal for the Canadian city with the coolest summers, at an average temperature of 15.7 degrees Celcius, compared to Canada's hottest summer city Kamloops, B.C., which holds an average temperature of 26.9 degrees Celcius.

But if Prince Rupert were to have a nemesis city at the opposite end of the spectrum, it would have to be Medicine Hat, Alberta.

While Prince Rupert is officially Canada's wettest city with an average of almost 2,600 millimetres annually and 240 wet days, Medicine Hat gets 266 dry days and is Canada's sunniest city year-round with more than 2,500 average annual hours of sunshine.

That's more than double the average of 1,229 hours of sunshine a year that Prince Rupert gets, making it the least-sunny city in Canada. And not only is Rupert the least-sunny, but residents of Rupert can also boast to having the cloudiest skies year-round, with 6,146 hours of cloud coverage.

What is good news for the city is that August is looking to be much warmer and sunnier than the month of July.

Beginning this Saturday, weather forecasts are calling for 10 consecutive days of sunshine with scattered clouds.

Even better is the fact that the daily temperature is expected to rise from a current average of 15 degrees to nearly 20 degrees by Tues., Aug. 5, with the average Probability of Precipitation for those 10 days only between 10 and 20 per cent.

"We like to be pretty accurate in our first few days of forecasting, but when you get to seven day forecasts and beyond, especially on the West Coast, we call it 'shaky ground,'" said Scott.

"You certainly don't want to make plans around that 12-day forecast, but the upcoming trend is certainly more favorable and the weekend is looking good."

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