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‘Expecting the unexpected’: Experts say it’s hard to determine how 2023 weather will compare to other years

Meteorologist, river forecast centre say week-to-week weather gives better insights

How is 2023’s weather going to stack up to previous years?

One expert says it’s about “expecting the unexpected, which is part of the forecast.”

Armel Castellan, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, said climate change is “obviously part of our landscape now.”

“It is something that we have seen repeatedly over the last few years, if not decades if we look back over to the north of Canada.”

However, Castellan said he did see comparisons to a few different years: 2012 and “to a certain extent last year.”

But when it comes to exactly how 2023 could compare weather-wise to previous years, Castellan said it is “nuanced” during an update from the province on the spring freshet and wildfire season.

Officials say British Columbians in the southern half of the province may be in for a cool spring, but a lack of rainfall since last fall could cause an increased risk of droughts and wildfires come summer.

READ MORE: Low rainfall may elevate drought, wildfire risks in B.C. this summer

“The devil’s in the details of that 10-day, two-week forecast where we’re going to start to see the events that are really going to shape the hazard season.”

David Campbell echoed that.

“We need to watch that week-to-week weather as we go through the year and how the river systems are responding to it,” explained Campbell, who is the head of the B.C. River Forecast Centre.

He added “we’re onto the real wildcards, and that’s the point we want to get across as well.” It’s that uncertainty over the next couple of months, he said, that is “really going to drive things.”

“We know that we’ve experienced things like the heat dome. We know that extreme rainfall, and looking back to recent years, for example, 2017 in the Okanagan where seasonal rainfall could really play a part in terms of elevating the risks that are there.”

Meantime Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness Bowinn Ma said the “climate crisis is here,” with extreme weather events happening “more frequently, with more severity, longer durations and greater impacts.”

“In fact, in recent years, what we’re also seeing is that the time between these extreme weather events is decreasing, which means it is not uncommon for communities to be actively recovering from a previous event and then facing a next one,” she said.

“These accumulative events are really wearing on a lot of communities, and unfortunately, are likely to become more common as time goes on because of climate change.”

– With file from Wolfgang Depner

READ MORE: B.C. launches heat alert system following 2021’s deadly heat dome

READ MORE: B.C. announces $21M for Lytton as one-year anniversary since tragic fire nears

READ MORE: Abbotsford mayor says Sumas and Nooksack watersheds deserve federal attention


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Lauren Collins

About the Author: Lauren Collins

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media's national team, after my journalism career took me across B.C. since I was 19 years old.
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