Fri Aug 29, 2003
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Canada's British Columbia Province is well known for its extensive temperate rainforests where
annual rainfall often measures in meters. But tucked within its southern Interior, we find an
unexpected natural terrain: the Pocket Desert. Hi, I'm Bryan Yeaton for The Weather
In the province's South Okanagan region, the Pocket Desert is unique to Canada. The slopes and
benchlands of the Osoyoos arid biome form a stark, treeless scrubland of silver and
This, Canada's only desert, lies in the rainshadow of the Cascade Mountains extension, and
receives less than four inches of rainfall a year. It boasts the lowest rainfall, highest
temperatures, and warmest lakes in our northern neighbor.
Summers scorch in the low-valley bottom, where days often top 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but
winters pass comparatively mildly for the latitude, with mean temperatures just below
In this fragile, endangered region, populations of plants and animals live at the edge of
their normal ranges. Animals like: burrowing owls, spadefoot toads, horned lizards,
rattlesnakes and scorpions, sagebrush and prickly pear cacti.
Actually, the Pocket Desert is an extension of the Sonoran Desert which stretches from Mexico
north to British Columbia's Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys. Plants and animals are similar
to those found at higher elevations in the Mexican desert.
The Pocket Desert Federal Ecological Reserve set aside this unaltered desert in 1921. Over 100
rare plants and animals here are found nowhere else in Canada. You can spot Canada's smallest
hummingbird and its largest concentration of Golden Eagles.
Thanks to our contributing writer, meteorologist Keith Heidorn, of Victoria, BC. Our show is
funded by Subaru of America, and the National Science Foundation.