At our two homes we spend considerable time talking about water, in the form of precipitation — the surfeit of it in Vancouver and the lack in Scottsdale. Rightly so. Last November 2017 we lived through a record (tying 1953) number of rainy days in Vancouver: 27 of 30. The year before, October broke its record for most days of rain in that month. It rained 28 days, surpassing the old record of 26 set in 1967 and again in 1985. We arrived in Arizona in early December at the end of the driest fall on record. Phoenix had not seen any measurable rain since August 23. Such a dry spell happened only once before, in 1938.
- Abbotsford BC tops the list of Canada’s cities where it rains most frequently, logging 174 rainy days annually. Vancouver is next (164), followed by St. John’s NF (163). Honours for most rainy days in the U.S. go to Rochester (167), Buffalo (167), then Portland (164).
- The dubious distinction of the wettest day in Canada belongs to Ucluelet BC on the west coast of Vancouver Island. On 6 October 1967, 19.2 in (489 mm) of rain fell. This record pales in comparison to our neighbour south. On July 25, 1979, Tropical Storm Claudette dropped 43 in (1,092 mm) of rain in 24 hours in Alvin TX. This amount still stands as the greatest one-day rainfall in the U.S.
- At 1,080 mi (1,738 km) in length, the MacKenzie River is the longest river in Canada, the second longest river system in North America, and the twelfth longest in the world. The longest in the U.S. is the Missouri River, stretching 2,340 mi (3,770 km) in length, just slightly longer than the Mississippi. Combined the two form the longest river system in North America, reaching 3,902 miles in length (6,275 km).
- Great Bear Lake in the NWT is the largest lake entirely in Canada (Lake Superior and Lake Huron straddling the Canada-U.S. border are larger), the fourth largest in North America, and the eighth largest in the world. Lake Superior, the largest lake in the U.S. and biggest among the five Great Lakes, spans an area of 31,700 mi2 (82,103 km2), roughly the size of Austria or the state of South Carolina.
- The highest waterfall in Canada is Della Falls, dropping 1,445 ft (440 m) from Della Lake in BC. Yosemite Falls in California is the tallest waterfall in the U.S., with a vertical drop of 2,425 ft (739 m).
- Mt. Baker Lodge in Washington state measured 95 ft (29 m) of snow in the 1998-99 season, setting a world record for the greatest seasonal snowfall. The seasonal record in Canada occurred in 1971-72 at Mount Copeland BC, with 80 ft (24 m) of snow falling.
- Water constitutes nearly 70 percent of an adult’s body. Two-thirds of that water is within our cells.
- Between 70 and 75 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered with water. That equals about 1.5 billion cubic kilometres of water, or 1.5 billion trillion litres, or 800 trillion Olympic swimming pools.
- Hot water freezes faster than cold water — and no one knows why.
- 97% of the Earth’s water is salty, 2.1% is locked up in polar ice caps, and less than 1% is available as fresh water for human use.
- According to most industry estimates, an average brewery uses five barrels of water to produce one barrel of my favourite beverage: beer.
During my former life in the wilds of BC, with no electricity and frozen well water, I melted clean snow to water on a wood-burning stove at a ratio of about ten to one. •