Bitter cold, snow in the West

Snow falls in Vancouver, BC, 15 January 2020 (Vancouver PD/Twitter)

Extremely cold Arctic air has enveloped Western Canada.

Temperatures have dropped into the -30s Celsius with bitter wind chills in the -40s on the Prairies and near -50 in the northern territories.

Even the normally mild Pacific coast has not escaped a so-called Arctic outflow.

About 15 to 20 cm snow fell in Vancouver and Victoria.

Schools closed, traffic was snarled and public transit buses got stuck in a region ill-equipped to handle wintry weather.

September snow in the West!

A snowy rooftop patio in Calgary, AB, 29 September 2019 (gbenlucas/Instagram)

Autumn began just a few days ago but it already looks and feels like winter in parts of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

A strong low pressure system prompted snowfall and winter storm warnings as up to 100 cm of snow fell across southern Alberta.

Gusty winds behind the system created blowing and drifting snow making highway travel treacherous.

Many early season snowfall records have been broken.

Snowfall amounts (in cm) as of 1pm MDT, 30 September:

  • Calgary 32
  • Claresholm  40-45
  • Lethbridge  50-60
  • Taber  60
  • Cardston area  70-90
  • Waterton Park  95

(Data courtesy Environment Canada)

August snow in northern BC!

Ft Nelson snow

BC Highway 97 near Fort Nelson, 19 Aug 2019 (Drive BC/Twitter)


Residents of northern British Columbia were shocked to wake up to snow this morning – an estimated 50 cm in some areas.

Environment Canada says cold Arctic air combined with moisture from the Pacific was responsible for the winter-like conditions in late summer.

Fort Nelson received a mix of rain and snow while higher elevations of 1,000 metres or more saw mainly snow.

Historical data shows measurable snow is likely in Fort Nelson in every month except July.

By contrast on Monday, Kamloops in the Okanagan Valley – about 1300 km south – reached a daytime high of 31°C.

Thundersnow in B.C.!

A thunderstorm with snow is called thundersnow and it struck the British Columbia Interior just two days before the start of summer!

An unstable air mass bringing cold air from Alaska is to blame for the rare thundersnow which covered mountainous terrain in the Okanagan Valley with about 10 cm.

Snow fell above 1500 metres with a snow/rain mix down to 1100 metres and a chilly rain at sea level.

About 10 cm of snow was also expected in the Alberta Rockies from a similar system.

Hello Spring!

img_1775

Magnolia tree in bloom, downtown Moncton, spring 2018 (Dearing)

The spring equinox officially arrived at 6:58pm ADT in the Northern Hemisphere which marks the moment when the Sun is directly above the equator as it moves northward.

The length of days are now roughly equal to the length of nights and the amount of daylight will continue to increase until the first day of summer on June 21st.

To mark the end of astronomical winter, here are a few highlights across Canada from the last three months:

  • Record highs were set in Atlantic Canada just before Christmas with 12.8°C in Greater Moncton on 22 December.
  • Edmonton broke numerous cold records during February with readings as low as -41.2°C and all but four days were in the minus 20’s and 30’s.
  • Snowfall records fell in coastal British Columbia from 10-12 February with 69 cm in Nanaimo and 52 cm in Victoria – more than what is normally received in an entire winter season!

(Data courtesy Environment Canada)

Spring arrives early in the North

A warm air mass has surged into Western Canada this week bringing record temperatures to the region and also to the North.

Many communities from Yukon to Nunavut were well above freezing and into the double digits breaking March records.

Yohin Lake hit a record high of 18.8°C Monday and spiked to 20.2°C Tuesday marking the first time in March the thermometer has climbed above 20°C in Northwest Territories.

Daytime highs in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley hit the mid 20’s while Alberta residents enjoyed maximums in the high teens.

Winter snowfall across Canada

TWN Snowmap

It has been quite a winter across Canada with no region reporting a shortage of snow.

Snowfall has been especially heavy in the West this season especially coastal British Columbia which usually sees only scant amounts.

Victoria, BC had almost 70 cm of snow in February – more than what typically falls all winter – even higher than snowy Moncton at nearly 60 cm last month.

While many areas of the West have already exceeded their snowfall amounts for an average winter, much of the East is still falling short of a normal season.

The deepest snowpack can be found in northern New Brunswick, central Quebec, Labrador, the Rockies and B.C.’s mountain ranges.

Coastal B.C. gets winter wallop

Victoria BC

Victoria, BC, 12 Feb 2019 (Royal BC Museum Inner Harbour Webcam)

Wintry weather doesn’t visit the coast of British Columbia very often but it certainly causes disruption when it arrives.

Following back to back snow days, Vancouver has picked up almost 25 cm of snow with higher amounts in the Fraser Valley and Victoria has recorded more than 40 cm.

An Arctic outflow pushing temperatures below freezing combined with low pressure off Vancouver Island is creating snowy rather than more typical rainy conditions.

Traffic and transit services were snarled, schools were cancelled and scattered power outages kept crews busy in the region.

Unbelievable cold in the West!

COLD

Thermometer reading near Edmonton where Celsius meets Fahrenheit, 05 Feb 2019 (Twitter)

An Arctic air mass has plunged much of Western Canada into the deep freeze with the coldest weather in nearly a decade.

Frigid temperatures have broken records in Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia with the wind chill making it feel more like -50 in some areas!

Emergency responders had many calls related to frostbite and hypothermia with seniors and young children being especially vulnerable to the cold.

Auto clubs had almost ten times as many requests from drivers for dead car batteries.

These locations were among new minimums set on 05-06 February 2019:

Key Lake, SK
New record of -47.7
Old record of -44.0 set in 2007
Records started in 1976

Meadow Lake, SK
New record of -43.5
Old record of -41.0 set in 1979
Records started in 1959

Saskatoon, SK
New record of -42.5
Old record of -41.7 set in 1907
Records started in 1900

Grande Prairie, AB
New record of -41.5
Old record of -39.4 set in 1933
Records started in 1922

Edmonton International Airport, AB
New record of -41.2
Old record of -37.2 set in 1975
Records started in 1959

Jasper, AB
New record of -39.4
Old record of -35.7 set in 2014
Records started in 1916

Blue River, BC
New record -35.6
Old record -33.0 set in 1989

Lytton, BC
New record -17.4
Old record -17.2 set in 1949

(Data courtesy Environment Canada)

Storm ravaged B.C. to get more active weather

Power crews working on restoration efforts in Nanaimo, BC, 25 Dec 2018 (BC Hydro)

Almost 7,000 customers are still without electricity in British Columbia after the most powerful windstorm in 20 years struck the province a week ago.

BC Hydro says most of the remaining outages are in the southern Gulf Islands and those customers should be back on the grid by New Year’s Eve.

At the storm’s peak about 700,000 customers were in the dark after wind gusts of between 90 and 123 km/h were recorded on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland.

After a brief quiet period over Christmas, the next system is coming this weekend bringing more active weather including rain, snow, and gusty winds.