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The sunniest city in B.C.

If you set out to disprove those old myths, you do so at your peril
Are we really the sunniest? Really?

“Well, I’ll be damned.”

That was the first thing I said last week when I hung up the phone with Environment Canada meteorologist Doug Lundquist, who had just unintentionally taught me a valuable lesson about being too much of a know-it-all.

It all started last Wednesday when I reported on Mayor Wayne Stetski’s address to Cranbrook and District Chamber of Commerce members. During his speech, the mayor mentioned more than once that age-old legend: that Cranbrook is the sunniest city in B.C.

I’ve heard this fact more times than I could count, but I’ve never seen any evidence to back it up. It seemed like wishful thinking to me. I was convinced that it was one of those small town rumours that got accepted as fact long ago.

After hearing the mayor mention it for the third time, I let out an audible sigh which drew glances from my table mates. ‘For goodness sake,’ I thought in a self-righteous tone. ‘If I don’t do something about this, it’s going to turn up on marketing material for Cranbrook.’

So when I returned to work, I called my meteorologist friend Doug.

“The mayor keeps saying Cranbrook is the sunniest city in B.C.,” I said, “and I just know it isn’t.”

There was a pause.

“I think he’s right,” Doug replied.

“Really?” I stuttered, backpedalling rapidly.

“You might think that Kamloops or Kelowna or Prince George might (be the sunniest city), but the thing is: those other locations are nearer to lakes and the valleys tend to get clouded in.

“In the winter, you don’t get as much cloud as the rest of the interior.

“The lakes and rivers tend to freeze over a lot more in the East Kootenay. Once they freeze over, there’s not moisture coming off the lakes in late winter.”

Adding insult to injury, Doug then likened us to Alberta.

“It’s probably mostly because mid winter is sunnier. You’re slightly like Alberta there,” he said tentatively.

Making me feel a little better, Doug did point out that Environment Canada doesn’t have records for every city in B.C. Some of those omissions include Kelowna, Princeton, Osoyoos and Kimberley.

The data was gathered over a 20-year period from 1981 to 2001. Climate changes since then haven’t been captured.

But according to the statistics, Cranbrook has about 80 hours more sunshine a year than the next closest city. Cranbrook gets 2,191 hours of sunshine each year, ahead of Victoria which gets 2,109 hours.

“Victoria is very high because they are in a rain shadow from the Olympics,” Doug explained.

Fort St. John gets 2,095 hours; close behind are Princeton at 2,087 hours and Kamloops at 2,080 hours.

So there you have it. I got schooled by karma. In the process of trying to prove someone wrong, I was proved wrong.

Come to think of it, I really should have believed the mayor in the first place. He worked for the Ministry of Environment for a long time, so he must be handy with climate data.

Lesson learned. Sorry for doubting you, Mayor Stetski. Carry on.


Sally MacDonald is a reporter at the Cranbrook Daily Townsman.