Second-hottest Abbotsford summer on record brings various challenges

City water, parks, farmers all hit by this year’s hot, dry weather

A tractor kicks up dust while plowing a Sumas Prairie field in July.

A tractor kicks up dust while plowing a Sumas Prairie field in July.

by Laura Rodgers, Abbotsford News

So far, this is the second-hottest summer on record for Abbotsford, according to Environment Canada. It was also the ninth-driest, as of Aug. 27.

The mean temperature for June, July and August so far was 18.8 degrees C this year, a number that hasn’t been beaten since 1958, when the mean was 19.1.

The nearly record-breaking hot, dry weather had wide-ranging effects all over the community from farming troubles to municipal water shortages.

Smaller-than-usual snowpack levels, combined with the lack of rain, caused a shortage in the Abbotsford-Mission municipal water supply, which led to Stage 3 water-usage restrictions starting July 3.

Officials speculated that it might be necessary to escalate to Stage 4, which gives the municipalities emergency powers to restrict water usage as they see fit, by mid-August. However, demand decreased by 9%, and this wasn’t necessary.

“The demand is way down. We’re good,” said city spokesperson Katherine Treloar.

The restrictions ban all use of sprinklers and non-recirculating fountains. Plant watering and car washing is still allowed using a spring-loaded hose nozzle.

While 261 first warning notices were issued in Abbotsford during the first two weeks of the restrictions, only 20 more have been given since. There were also 12 second warnings given in the first two weeks and 15 since. Only one fine has been issued, for $100.

The City of Abbotsford reduced or stopped watering for its soil-grown grass playing fields, though sand-grown grass fields were still watered because they are more delicate. Treloar said repair and reseeding will be needed for some fields, but it will be minimal.

In the District of Mission, there have been 24 warning tickets since Stage 3 restrictions began, and one fine.

But while yellow lawns and dried-out gardens were a sacrifice many locals were ready to make, those who rely on farming for their livelihoods were hit particularly hard by this summer’s conditions.

Sonja Barker, who farms mainly fruits and berries with her husband in Mission’s Silverdale area, said the hot, dry weather has brought a host of problems. Barker also sits on the board of the Fraser Valley Farm Direct Marketing Association.

The warm temperatures hit her strawberry crop hard, causing it much of it to ripen early with useless fruit. “We had thousands of strawberries that were very small and malformed,” said Barker. “Shriveled-up little berries, they turned red before they could put on size.”

Cherries ripened early, many apples were sunburnt and unusable. She had to dump close to a thousand pounds of spoiled or unsaleable fruit. Because of last year’s mild winter, pests like aphids weren’t killed off by the cold, and they swarmed her cabbage and kale.

The far-reaching dryness brought upon the area made watering less efficient any water she put on the land would seep away quickly to surrounding areas. “It’s heartbreaking…it’s very difficult in these conditions,” said Barker. “It’s very stressful…you’re always at the mercy of Mother Nature.”

But the weather turned the corner starting Aug. 28, when a low-pressure trough from the west replaced the high-pressure ridge that’s been hanging over much of the province for months. There are days of rain forecast, but they won’t be enough to bring river, groundwater and moisture levels back to normal yet.

“Every drop in the bucket helps. This will be the first significant rain since the beginning of June,” said Lisa Coldwells, a meteorologist with Environment Canada.

She said the Fraser Valley region has a large rainfall deficit from this summer so far while the 40 mm predicted for this weekend will be a big help, it won’t fix everything.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nick Warmerdam and his dog Diesel are inviting locals to check out the Lakeland Farm U-pick Flower Farm this spring. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
VIDEO & SLIDESHOW: Abbotsford’s Lakeland Flowers opens for spring

Tulip farm attraction opened on April 14, open to the public daily seven days a week

A man holds a child while speaking with RCMP following an erratic driving incident on Highway 1 in Chilliwack on Friday, April 16, 2021. The child and a woman (but not this man) were in this Jeep Grand Cherokee which hit a barrier and a parked car on Highway 1 and continued driving. The vehicle finally exited the highway at Yale Road West and came to a stop. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Video captures woman driving erratically with child after hitting barrier, car on Hwy 1 in Chilliwack

Smoke seen coming from SUV as it continues to travel eastbound of shoulder of highway

Video image
UPDATE: Bridge traffic moving normally after high-velocity crash involving logging truck

Northbound crash occurred at approximately 2 p.m., involves 6 vehicles, north lanes shut down

An undated picture of the Hope Station House. (Photo/Save The Hope Station House)
Hope council must consider all options for Station House: B.C. Ombudsperson

Investigation ‘revealed flaws in District’s process,’ statement said

The West Coast Women’s Show is among numerous events held annually at Tradex in Abbotsford. (Abbotsford News file photo)
Show producers start petition against city’s call for Tradex proposals

Abbotsford site should remain as events facility, petition states

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. health minister says delay in Moderna vaccine ‘disappointing’

‘The sooner we get vaccines in people’s arms the better, and inconsistency in delivery is a consistent problem. This is simply a reality and not an issue of blame,’ Adrian Dix said Friday

(Police handout/Kamloops RCMP)
B.C. man dies in custody awaiting trial for Valentine’s Day robbery, kidnapping spree

Robert James Rennie, who was on the Kamloops RCMP’s most wanted list, passed away at the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Coquitlam

Statue of Lady Justice at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. (File photo)
B.C. Supreme Court expands services to offer sittings in Port Coquitlam

Starting Monday, sittings for some civil and family matters will be held in the Tri-Cities courthouse

Photos of Vancouver Canucks players are pictured outside the closed box office of Rogers Arena in downtown Vancouver Thursday, April 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canucks games against Leafs postponed as team returns from COVID-19

The team has had 11 games postponed since an outbreak late last month

Danita Bilozaze and her daughter Dani in Comox. Photo by Karen McKinnon
Island woman makes historic name change for truth and reconciliation

Becomes first person in Canada to be issued new passport under the TRC Calls to Action

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

Most Read