Brandon got soaked in June. (PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY GRANT HAMILTON / BRANDON SUN)
If you’re feeling waterlogged, you can at least take some solace in knowing that this is the worst it has ever been.
Environment Canada confirmed Monday — while rain was still drizzling — that this June was the wettest month ever on record for Brandon, capping off a three-month stretch that was also the wettest spring ever.
In fact, it’s not even close.
"It’s clobbered," said David Phillips. "It’s hit out of the park."
Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada, said that Brandon was drenched with 237.6 mm as of midnight Sunday night, enough to make June the wettest month ever on record.
Another 14 mm fell on Monday, bringing June’s total rainfall to 251.6 mm.
That’s more than 30 mm higher than the previous record-holder, in August 1980, when Brandon saw 217.3 mm. The previous wettest June was in 2005, when the city got 216.2 mm.
To put it in perspective, Phillips said, a normal June would bring just 80 mm of rain to the city.
"That’s three times what you normally get," he said. "That’s a monsoon!"
June caps off the wettest spring on record, too, he added. From April 1 to June 29, Brandon has received 360.4 mm of precipitation — the normal for those three months is 165.6 mm.
"That’s well above — double! — what you’d see in a wet spring," he said. The previous wettest spring was in 2011, when combined snow and rain brought 321 mm to the city.
June had four days with rainfall over 25 mm, including 75.2 mm on June 19 and three days in a row in the final weekend. That’s astonishing, Phillips said, given that, in an average year, Brandon would see only two days a year with that much precipitation.
Weather records at the airport go back to the early 1940s, but Brandon also has "very good" weather records dating back to the 1890s from the research station, Phillips said. Those records show 258 mm of rain fell in June 1902, but direct comparisons between two stations are difficult because rainfall amounts are so highly variable.
For example, the research station recorded 10.4 mm on Monday, compared to the 14 mm that fell at the airport. During localized storms, daily rainfall totals between the two stations can vary by 20 mm or more.
The sheer extent by which the airport records fell has Phillips somewhat agog.
"I used to get excited about a tenth of a degree or a fraction," he said. "Now, it clobbers it."
The reason, he says, may be a weakening of the gradient between cold northerly regions and warmer temperatures down south. That temperature differential is what drives the jet stream — a high-altitude region of fast-moving air currents on which weather, including storms, "hitch a ride," Phillips says.
With warmer temperatures up north, the jet stream meanders more than it used to, meaning weather that used to race across the country in three or four days could now take more than a week.
"I used to say that the best thing about Canadian weather is that it hits and runs," he said.
"But what we’re seeing now is the weather seems to be slowing down, taking its time. When it stays longer, it has more misery to share. It’s just hanging out like an unwanted houseguest."
But getting drenched with storms more often means misery elsewhere, too, he said.
"Some areas are getting too much weather," Phillips said. "Others, not enough."
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 2, 2014