By ROB PAOLA
The extreme dryness that has been plaguing Welland and Niagara region was reaching historic proportions through yesterday. The drought was about as bad as anything Welland has experienced since the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s, and was on pace to be Welland’s driest start to summer since records began in 1872.
That all changed in a matter of a few hours this morning as a band of heavy thunderstorms brought some much needed rain across Niagara including Welland. Officially, the storms this morning dumped 27 mm of rain at Welland’s airport (Niagara Central Dorothy Rungeling Airport), which is more rain than has fallen in Welland over the entire past 7 weeks. To say this morning’s rainfall was overdue is an understatement. It won’t end the drought, as much more rain is needed to get back to normal.. but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
A few of the numbers: (data from Welland airport weather station)
Through July 24th, Welland had received only 6.0 mm of rain this month. This was on pace to be Welland’s 2nd driest July ever, behind 1933 when only 5.6 mm fell the entire month. This morning’s rain now puts this July out of a top 10 driest July in Welland. Welland could see more rain before the month is over.
Through July 24th, Welland had received only 72.7 mm of rain since May 1st. Normal rainfall for the 3 month period of May, June and July is 254 mm. So Welland was running some 29% of normal precipitation since May 1st, an exceedingly low amount. Welland was on pace to have the driest May-Jul period since records began in 1872, but that is no longer the case after this morning‘s rainfall. May-Jul rainfall is now at 99.8 mm, which would be the 3rd driest May-Jul on record since 1872. The driest May-Jul period in Welland was in 1934 when only 81.5 mm fell over that 3 month period.
By comparison, last year saw 292 mm of rain in Welland from May 1st to July 31st. More rain fell in one day last year (85 mm on June 27), than in the entire period of May 1st to July 24th this year.
Welland’s top 10 driest May – Jul periods (data since 1872.. some years missing)
2016 99.8 mm (as of noon)
LAST YEAR 292
Bottom line.. a welcome rain after a historically dry start to summer!
(Rob Paola, a “Welland boy” as the saying goes, is with Environment Canada and currently works at the Prairie and Arctic Storm Prediction Center in Winnipeg, Manitoba as a supervisor and severe weather meteorologist. Following Welland’s weather, even from afar, has been a long-time interest.)