THIS month is on the cusp of going down in the record books as the driest September ever.
"The story is the dryness," said Environment Canada meteorologist Trevor Smith.
From Aug. 1 to Sept. 25, there has been only 6.3 millimetres of precipitation at Vancouver International Airport, where official records are charted. That looks poised to smash a record set in Steveston in 1907, when only 9.4 mm of rain fell in those two months.
In an average August and September, the same weather station gets more than 92 mm of rain.
If the trend continues, "This will be the driest August and September in 107 years," said Smith.
Conditions have been the same all over the south coast, including the North Shore.
The West Vancouver weather station - which generally records more rain than the airport - had clocked only 10.2 mm of rain by Tuesday. That's far lower than the 77.7 mm recorded last year.
Smith said chances of the record-breaking dryness continuing to the end of the month are good. A weak weather system predicted for Friday could bring some showers, he said, but they are not expected to result in any substantial rain. The high pressure system that's continued to hang around for September is actually expected to build up again on the weekend before eventually breaking down, said Smith.
Smith said the south coast often sees good weather for the first part of September. "This year it's lasted most of the month."
Temperatures have also been hovering about a degree above normal.
Earlier this month, several communities along the SeatoSky corridor set records for high temperatures. West Vancouver recorded its warmest day this month on Sept. 17 with a high of 27 degrees.
The unseasonably dry September has led firefighters to call for extra caution from the public in wooded areas.
"We're getting cooler nights now, a bit more dampness coming in, but still the fuel load is very dry, and afternoon temperatures are staying hot, so the conditions are all there," said District of North Vancouver division fire chief Mike Cairns.
"Conditions we usually see in mid-August, we're seeing midSeptember."
The danger posed by bone-dry ground cover was brought home last week when fire broke out in a forested area just north of Horseshoe Bay. West Vancouver fire crews rushed to the Ansel Place neighbourhood just after 9 p.m. Sept. 16 after B.C. Ferries workers spotted the blaze and called it in. Firefighters arrived to find a patch of woodland about 25 metres by 25 metres in flames - as little as 50 metres from nearby homes.
They put out the fire without much difficulty, but the incident illustrates how hazardous conditions are right now, said Tony Bird, West Vancouver's assistant fire chief of operations.
"It is a concern, obviously," he said. "Everything we get like that, we're very conscientious about it, making sure it's not going to spread."
The Ansel Place incident came just a week after crews dealt with a one-hectare brush fire above Lions Bay, which took more than two days to extinguish.
North Vancouver has not seen any incidents on that scale, but firefighters have been called out repeatedly to deal with minor fires in the brush along Mount Seymour Parkway, said Cairns. Those were likely caused by discarded cigarettes, showing how easily the dry brush can ignite, he said.
The forest fire danger rating for this area of the province was recently set to high, prompting West Vancouver to remind residents that smoking and open fires are banned in all outdoor areas.
Despite the dry weather, water reservoirs are still in good shape, said Bill Morrell spokesman for Metro Vancouver.
The Seymour, Capilano and Coquitlam reservoirs are still at about 68 per cent capacity - thanks to wet, cool conditions in spring and early summer. "We were spilling water (over the Cleveland dam) right up until the end of July," said Morrell. "We're well within our normal operating range for this time of year."
Smith said inevitably the more typical Vancouver rains will start in October.
Climate forecasters said this week there is a possibility of a weak El Nino weather pattern developing this winter. But Smith said a weak El Nino "typically doesn't mean much for the Vancouver weather."
A stronger El Nino often brings winters that are warmer and slightly drier than usual.