Is Osoyoos a desert?

Nestled in the Okanagan Valley is a scenic town called Osoyoos. With its sunny climate and breathtaking views, it’s no wonder why many consider it one of the most beautiful places in Canada. But is this gorgeous area really a desert? Well, that depends on how you look at it. From its dry and hot summers to its unique desert-like vegetation, there are certainly elements of a dessert atmosphere. However, it can be quite wet in the wintertime as well. So, is Osoyoos a desert? According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, yes and no. The town sits at an elevation of about 700 metres above sea level. The Okanagan Valley is in the rain shadow of the Cascade and Coast Mountains, so it gets significantly less precipitation than other areas of British Columbia. The dry climate and hot summers are two characteristics of a desert. But the fact that the area gets its precipitation from winter storms, and that it has a relatively wet winter season (compared to other areas of BC) means that Osoyoos is not technically a desert.

What is the definition of a desert? According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, a desert is an area that receives less than 250 mm of precipitation per year. Other sources say it is an area receiving less than 100 mm per year (the same source says about 400 mm).

How much rain does Osoyoos get per year? The average annual precipitation in Osoyoos is about 508 mm (20 inches). This is well above the 100 mm per year required to be considered a desert. But this number can vary widely from year to year.

So, there we have it!

 

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