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OPINION – Climate Change and Thunderstorms from a Students Perspective

Coquitlam (Ishan Shah) – Ishan Shah is known as @Lmainwx from Twitter. Ishan is a Grade 10 student living in Coquitlam. He is very interested in weather and nature and is aspiring to be a meteorologist after high school. He enjoys writing articles about weather and other subjects.

Have you ever wondered why the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley have very little thunderstorm activity compared to the rest of BC? Well, this article will explain why they are so rare.

Thunderstorms occur when warm air starts to rise and create vertical movement before hitting cooler air. The higher temperature contrasts cause more severe and larger thunderstorms. The water off Vancouver Island is very cold and prevents higher temperature contrasts in air masses for thunderstorm activity. This year, the Fraser Valley has only experienced two days of thunderstorms in mid-May. The thunderstorms are unusual to be in May but not unheard of. July and August are the peak months for thunderstorm activity in coastal BC leaving us the next couple of months to hopefully have some days filled with lightning. According to Environment Canada, Vancouver typically averages 6.1 days of thunderstorms a year while Abbotsford averages 7.1 days. The farther inland you go in BC, thunderstorm activity increases, with the interior averaging about 15 days of thunderstorms annually because of less moderating influence from the ocean.

Thunderstorms have many influences on the climate in BC. In the hot and dry Interior, it causes hundreds of wildfires every year that burn down forests and occasionally reach cities. In this case, the South Coast is lucky to have little wildfires due to no thunderstorm activity. Thunderstorms can also cause power outages and infrastructure/home damage from the hail, strong winds, heavy rain, lightning, and extremely rarely, tornadoes.

Climate change impacts thunderstorm activity significantly around the world. Severe thunderstorm activity in the Pacfifc Ocean is expected to increase due to rising sea temperatures along with more warm days in Vancouver.

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