Rainshadow

The grasslands of the Chilcotin, Cariboo, Nicola, Thompson, and Okanagan regions are a product of the hot dry climate. This area is separated geographically from the Pacific Coastal regions by the Coastal Mountains, creating a “rainshadow” effect. Precipitation (rain and snow) is reduced because warm, moist air travelling eastward off the Pacific Ocean drops its moisture on the Coastal Mountains, resulting in drier air flowing down the east slope.

Precipitation also varies considerably from location to location. It increases approximately one centimeter with every 24 meters of altitude. It also increases as one moves from west to east. The overall effect of the “rainshadow” is the hot, dry climate of the Southern Interior of British Columbia. In the Okanagan Valley, the “rainshadow” effect is lessened and more moisture is released, particularly at higher elevations.

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