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Severe drought conditions expand in British Columbia

18 regions under Drought Level 5; another 9 in Drought Level 4
The red areas on this map represent areas of British Columbia under Drought Level 4 conditions, while the dark red areas are under Drought Level 5, the most severe condditions in the province. (British Columbia Drought Information Portal)

Drought conditions are continuing in British Columbia, with most of the province in Drought Level 4 and 5.

The latest provincial data shows the entire Thompson-Okanagan region is in Drought Level 5, as is the Lower Mainland and all of Vancouver Island. This is the highest of the province’s six drought levels, and is used to indicate adverse impacts are almost certain.

Drought conditions in British Columbia have been a concern throughout the summer. The Thompson-Okanagan region has been in Drought Level 5 since the middle of August.

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Of the province’s 34 regions measured for drought conditions, 18 are in Drought Level 5 and another nine are in Drought Level 4 conditions.

Provincial conditions reported by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada show drought conditions worsened in southern British Columbia in August.

“In the Okanagan River Basin, most stations reported exceptionally low precipitation, with Penticton and Vernon receiving only 5.1 per cent and 2.1 per cent of their normal precipitation this month, respectively. The area also faced other challenges including both the driest soil moisture levels on record and a major wildfire near Kelowna,” the report stated.

At the end of August, 88 per cent of the Pacific Region was considered abnormally dry, or in moderate to severe drought, including 99 per cent of the region’s agricultural lands.

In addition to drought conditions, British Columbia is also experiencing its worst wildfire season on record, with more than 2.35 million hectares burned.

“This has been the worst wildfire season our province has faced and while we are coping with a historic drought, we must be ready for the risk of severe flooding later this year,” Premier David Eby said. “These crises are indeed scary for many people and government will be there to adapt and immediately support people, no matter what we face, together.

The province will be launching an expert task force on emergencies in response to the conditions the province is facing at present.

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John Arendt

About the Author: John Arendt

John Arendt has worked as a journalist for more than 30 years. He has a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism degree from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.
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