May weather isn’t always a good indication of what’s to come during the summer around the province.
The wettest May on record occurred in 2017 and, yet, that summer’s wildfire season turned out to be one of the worst on record. Conversely, a dry May in 2020 didn’t hold up through June and into early July with a mixed bag of weather that was far from summer-like.
May 2021 has followed suit from April with predominantly dry conditions around the Island.
Just 29 millimetres of rain was recorded by Chris Carss, a volunteer weather observer/recorder for Environment Canada, at his Chemainus home during the month. The normal May yields 50.9 mm.
If the beginning of the week felt unusually hot, that’s because the thermometer nearly reached a record-breaking high for the beginning of June.
Temperatures at the Comox weather station on June 1 reached 29.1 C – just 0.3 C shy of the hottest temperature on record for the area on that day. In both 1924 and 1961, the highs reached a record-setting 29.4 C, said Environment and Climate Change Canada meteorologist Lisa Erven.
Despite the warm weather, Erven explained June is a “rollercoaster type of month” in terms of temperatures and precipitation, living up to its ‘June-uary’ nickname.
“We can really get all sorts of weather heading into early summer. Throughout most of B.C., a lot of places got a taste of summer.”
She noted while the ridge of high pressure was picked up on models a few days in advance, the weather in June can have drastic swings. While the mid-week will stay in warmer temperatures, from June 3 throughout the weekend to at least June 7, Erven said residents can expect a shift into cooler weather with showers, with a daytime high reaching 22 C on Thursday, June 3.
“We’re about to hit a major shift, so get out there today and enjoy the vitamin D, but do so with your layers of protection and make sure to stay hydrated.”
Even as the rain stayed away in May, temperatures were generally lower, with Carss recording a mean daily maximum of 17.4 degrees Celsius compared to the normal of 18.1 C and a mean minimum that matched the normal of 8.9 C. The extreme maximum of 24.5 C was only reached at the end of the month on May 31, with the minimum of a chilly 5.0 C on May 8.
But the number of days that were mostly or partly sunny and dry stood out at 20. The normal is just 13.
“As expected, May 2021 turned out to be another mostly springlike month like last year, but unlike Mays during much of the 2010 decade that often marked the beginning of the main season of summer weather,” noted Carss. “There were a few brief summer previews around mid-May, but temperatures generally averaged about a half degree below normal the rest of the time.
“More in keeping with summer was the rainfall which occurred with about average frequency during the month, but yielded only a little more than 50 per cent of the normal total accumulated amount for May,” he continued. “As might be expected for such a dry month, the total number of mostly or partly sunny days without rainfall was a good 50 per cent above normal.”
In the Comox Valley, the area reached 76.8 per cent of its normal precipitation for the month of May. In comparison, Nanaimo only reached 40 percent while Campbell River reached 50 percent.
In the next few months, the province will enter a dry season, and while precipitation measurements for the month are difficult to predict, Erven noted a cooler shift is expected at least until the middle of next week.
“Shower days are not so great for beach days, but help for drought conditions and forest fires. Spring was really dry, particularly in the southern part of the province – it hit the top five driest springs on record.”
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