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COLUMN: Rejoice! Rains return at last

Wet season is back, but it’s a little different than it was last century
In 2021, torrential rain caused the Nicomekl to overflow its banks in Langley City. (Langley Advance Times file)

Something you notice as a born-and-raised west coaster is that people in other parts of North America have a different relationship to rain than we do.

There are whole regions – like southern California – where a light drizzle is treated in exactly the same way as a fierce winter storm. Precipitation in any form means the end of all outdoor activities! It’s time to hide indoors and wait out the deluge!

Meanwhile, we’re grabbing our umbrellas (or not even bothering, after all, it’s barely misting out there, right?) and heading out. It’ll clear up. Can’t stay in every day.

Those of us raised here in coastal B.C. may be notoriously bad at driving in snow, to the derision of our fellow Canadians, but a good number of folks in California can’t even drive safely in rain! It’s baffling!

One thing that I think divides coastal British Columbians from a lot of other folks is that we’re so used to the rain, we miss it when it’s gone.

I grew up with the “classic” version of the west coast summers – mostly dry and with plenty of sunny days, but relatively cool, and interrupted here and there by days of showers, too.

That weather pattern seems to be vanishing.

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Long summer droughts are becoming more common, and spiking temperatures are increasingly likely, especially here in our concrete and asphalt heat island in the Lower Mainland.

But we’re not actually going to stop being the ‘Wet Coast’ anytime soon.

Climate change is re-distributing when we get our rain.

A variety of reports and predictions on B.C.’s climate as the world warms suggest that we actually will have more rain in total, particularly in the north, but also here on the south coast.

While summer drought events are projected to increase, winter storms will more than take up the slack.

Rain falling as a result of storms, according to one study, could increase by 40 to 60 per cent on the coast, and between 100 to 150 per cent on the northern Cariboo Mountains.

That pattern is already becoming familiar – long, hot summers, suddenly crashing into autumn and winter in which dry spells and torrential rains alternate. Stronger winds and more intense storms are expected.

At least our introduction to this year’s rainy season was pretty mild – even if it was categorized as a bomb cyclone.

Regardless of the intensity of the rain when it comes, I’m always glad to see it come back.

It doesn’t feel right to live in an ersatz California for three or four months of the year.

I miss the cool, sometimes damp summers, and the relatively mild autumns and winters.

We’re still the ‘Wet Coast,’ and we always will be.

But it’s a different kind of weather than we’re used to.

Hopefully our summers won’t be so dry that we forget how to drive in the rain.

Matthew Claxton is a reporter with the Langley Advance Times.

Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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