It finally rained but is it enough to ease drought and wildfire concerns?

It finally rained but is it enough to ease drought and wildfire concerns?
WatchIt's the first significant rain in weeks on Vancouver Island but is it enough to ease drought and wildfire concerns? Tess van Straaten reports.

Rain was a welcome sight on parts of Vancouver Island on Wednesday after no significant rainfall in weeks and growing drought concerns.

“Up until yesterday, some parts of the Island had seen only one, two or three millimetres of rain — that’s it!” Armel Castellan of Environment and Climate Change Canada says.

“And that’s including places like Estevan and Nootka on the outside coast which normally see more than 260 mm in an average April.”

The North Island — which didn’t get any rain Wednesday — is even direr.

Port Hardy’s only had half a millimetre of rain this month, compared to the 125 mm it usually gets in April.

The Island-wide precipitation shortfall is already leading to out-of-control brush fires, including one in Langford Tuesday evening that quickly spread in tinder-dry conditions.

“They quite often occur in the valley bottoms where the fuels are really light like grasses and they really dry out with the sun and the wind,” says Dorthe Jakobsen of the Coastal Fire Centre.

The much-needed rain is drenching a good chunk of the Island — from Barkley Sound on the wild West Coast to parched plants and gardens in the Comox Valley.

But is this Pacific storm, and the other ones moving in over the next week or so, enough to make up for a record-dry spring?

“We’re turning a corner but the deficit is so huge that April will still be probably in that top 10 or top 15 driest on record,” says Castellan. “The deficit is massive when you think about it on a multi-month scale.”

Both March and November were also extraordinarily dry.

The next week will see several storm systems move through that should bring moisture to the entire Island.

But forecasters are warning that we can also expect to see a risk of thunderstorms, which is unusual for the Island.

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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