Okanagan's wacky weather history revealed

Heat, cold - we've had it all

It’s been a pretty hot week. Environment Canada issued a heat warning for the entirety of the Okanagan.

But this isn’t the first time the valley has experienced intense weather; in fact, most people seem to just accept summer and winter extremes as part of life in the Okanagan. 

In 2017, as a high pressure system passed over the valley, Vernon hit a sizzling 36.9 C, breaking a 111-year-old record of 36.1 C. The summers of 2017 and 2018 also saw thick clouds of smoke shroud the valley after record numbers of forest fires broke out across the province.

In 1944, hot weather brought on a locust plague that munched through 40 acres of one farmer’s oat crop.

A dry and windy spring in 1909 caused devastating bush fires that destroyed a number of homes and businesses across the valley, while a parched July 1924 dried up Vernon's BX Creek and resulted in significant water shortages.

On the other end of the spectrum, January of this year was the fourth snowiest in three decades, and road crews had to work overtime to keep roads clear of ice. A dry spell in February then resulted in the issuing of a significant dust advisory.

In 1916, a frozen Okanagan Lake prevented the SS Sicamous from reaching Penticton for two months.

The chilling winter of 1950 was reflected in that year’s meagre fruit crop, while a long period of cold weather in January 1911 provided an excellent ice harvesting season on Swan Lake. 

So, while this extreme hot spell might seem a lot to handle, this certainly isn’t the first time the region has experienced dramatic weather – nor is it destined to be the last.

Just be thankful it’s not a plague of locusts.

Gwyneth Evans is community engagement co-ordinator with the Greater Vernon Museum and Archives.


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