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‘Of course it’s raining, it’s Fair Week’

» Is climate change hurting the Summer Fair?

A timed-exposure captures the twirling motion of the midway rides, which were reflected in a puddle, at the Manitoba Summer Fair in 2010.

FILE PHOTO Enlarge Image

A timed-exposure captures the twirling motion of the midway rides, which were reflected in a puddle, at the Manitoba Summer Fair in 2010.

‘Of course it’s raining, it’s Fair Week,’ is what my girlfriend said (with exasperation) when we returned to work after lunch on Thursday. It was not-quite pouring, and there had been several good booms of thunder. Environment Canada had just issued a severe thunderstorm watch, and there were pictures of tornadoes in southeastern Saskatchewan floating around Twitter.

Yup, it was raining.

Of course, hers was a sentiment shared by a lot of people around the city, I'm sure.

A friend of mine (the guy who introduced my girlfriend and I, coincidentally) felt the same way, too. He messaged me on Facebook, requesting that I dig into Environment Canada data to see just how often that happens.

Well, I'm not sure I have time to do that before the Summer Fair is over, but I can take a quick crack at it.

Since we rebooted our website in 2010, this will be the fourth summer fair that we have easily searchable stories about. Let's take a look:

Interestingly, that's something that gets brought up regularly as well — Brandon has two fairs, "winter" and "summer" and they're both in the spring.

Brandon, everybody! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Oliver pointed out that June has advantages: when the weather is good, people are rarin' to go. And the kids are still in school, so no one's taken off on summer vacation yet.

Into July (and August), I often find that weekends get booked up pretty quickly. There are only a few of them, after all.

I did check into Environment Canada summer climate normals, which give a sense of the "average" month.

June … well, June has some challenges, from an outdoor-event perspective.

Although it's Brandon's third-warmest month, Environment Canada says that June is also Brandon's rainiest month, averaging more than 80 mm of rain. That's about 10 per cent more than July (73.4 mm) and 25 per cent more than August (65.9 mm).

(For the record, April turns out to get just 17 mm of rain in an average year — the driest non-winter month, with less rain than October. So much for "April showers"!)

June is also troublesome for how the rain is spread out. On average, some 14 of its 30 days record measurable rain. That's much more than July (11.3 mm) and August (10.3 mm).

And when it rains, it rains. June also gets more days with at least 5 mm rain (five days in an average year) than any other month. The same goes for storms of more than 10 mm (2.6 days) and more thn 25 mm (about once every other year).

June is also windier than July or August, with an average wind speed of 14.9 km/h. That's less than earlier in the spring, at least.

So although my probably theory is a little rusty, I think it's clear that July and August are better months than June, at least if you're holding a multi-day outdoor event, and you're looking for good weather.

And then I went down the rabbit hole. You see, Environment Canada does climate normals based on 30-year periods. So the current ones are from 1981–2010. But they've got historical normals from 1971–2000 and 1961–90 online as well.

So let's look at how climate change over the past few decades is affecting the summer fair.I looked specifically at rainfally totals, because even this is taking longer than I thought. Here's a graph of rainfall totals (left) and days with rain (right) on a "normal" June for those three overlapping 30-year periods.

WOW!

Although there are some ups and downs in July and August, June is posting a clear trend — there are more rainy days and more rain falls on them.

Maybe it's time to reconsider these June dates?

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