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Okanagan blasted by rains


Jill Colton, staff writer
August 12, 2011 — The Okanagan region of B.C. was hammered with a gamut of severe conditions Wednesday night.


The event is considered to be a one-in-100 year occurrence.
The event is considered to be a one-in-100 year occurrence.

A powerful storm packed a menacing punch Wednesday evening in B.C.'s Okanagan region.

Upwards of 100 mm of rain soaked the ground, leaving roads flooded, trees uprooted and homes darkened.

The storm walloped the Central and North Okanagan over the course of four hours. According to Environment Canada meteorologists, the event is a one-in-100 year occurrence.

Gina Ressler, a meteorologist here at The Weather Network says the situation was unique because of the amount of instability.

“It was typically what we would see in a Prairie thunderstorm -- as opposed to the usual storm behaviour in the B.C. Interior.”

Ressler notes the 'flow aloft' was very weak in the region Wednesday.

Essentially, this means “that the upper level flow in the atmosphere steers the thunderstorms once they start up.”

35 lightning strikes were recorded in one ten minute period.
35 lightning strikes were recorded in one ten minute period.

Ressler says that static thunderstorms that produce substantial rainfall amounts (over an extended period) often result in localized flooding.

Reports say that as much as 50 mm of rain deluged Kelowna in about two hours. And in one ten-minute period, a staggering 35 lightning strikes lit up the night south of community.

The Kamloops Fire Centre said the strikes helped ignite roughly 25 spot fires.

“Crews returned to four areas on Thursday morning when the heavy rain did not douse those brush fires,” explained Kayla Petter, a Fire Information Officer in the area.

The Forest Service also spent the day patrolling seven other sites, but they noted that none of the lightning strikes sparked dangerous flare-ups.

With files from Andrea Stockton and The Canadian Press

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