Atmosphere

Okanagan Weather

This is a view west up Canoe Bay towards the Main Channel of the Okanagan Fjord. Yes, we call it a lake, bless us, but it’s really an inland fjord, cut deep by ice and filled with glacial water. As this image shows, its weather is also upside down, with warm air above the clouds and cooler air below. Not that cool this year, but cooler, at any rate, and dryer, too. The clouds roll over ahead, and Pacific storms, for the most part, roll overhead with them, carrying heat far to the east. This is not some weird effect from the placement of our mountains. We don’t really have mountains, so much as this deep glacial cut and the fjord beneath it, part of which is filled with water too heavy for the dry air to lift. It gets about a metre of it every year, but no more. Still, a metre of a 135-kilometre-long body of water is a lot. It makes no difference, though. The air remains dry and the water flows over top of it like a river.

Turtle Point, with Terrace Mountain Across the Water

That’s because it is a river. The air is dry because it is a cut in the land, with greater air pressure than the air above. It is naturally dryer than new air from the sea, because of the vacuum of pressure created by the Coast Mountains far away. In effect, it’s over them that the water is flowing, not over us. However, there is another dimension to this weather, and that is the brown city exhaust hanging above the lake. It gets caught by the lid of cloud, in an effect that local radio calls “a weather inversion.” How can it be an inversion when this is the normal state of affairs? That way of normalizing the abuse of an environment opposite to the normative ones which define the rules has to stop. It is profoundly colonial. A landscape like this is a bad place to build cities. They should, if anywhere, be up high in the snow and the rain, under the stars. Everyone, the land included, would be healthier for it.

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