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.

Hello Spring!

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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)

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.

White Christmas across Canada

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Barely white on Christmas morning in Truro, NS, 25 December 2017 (Dearing)

Technically in Truro, Nova Scotia, it wasn’t a White Christmas with snow falling later in the morning which changed to freezing rain, ice pellets and eventually rain.

But by late afternoon, winds gusted to almost 100 km/h which knocked down trees and power lines leaving thousands in the dark on Christmas Day.

In Greater Moncton, snow and blowing snow were factors on December 25 with about 20 cm accumulating – the heaviest snowfall so far this season.

Across Canada, Vancouver had a trace of white for Christmas while Victoria had 3 cm of snow.

Calgary is still digging out from a 30 cm snowfall a few days ago, Winnipeg had its coldest Christmas in 20 years plunging to -30 C and Toronto picked up 10 cm during the day.

West coast goes white

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Kitsilano neighbourhood,Vancouver, BC, 19 Dec 2017 (Twitter)

It doesn’t snow in Vancouver very often but when it does panic typically ensues on streets and sidewalks.

About 7 cm fell at Vancouver International Airport yesterday with higher amounts reported to the north and east.

Snow also fell on Vancouver Island with only 3 cm in Victoria but at least 20 cm in Nanaimo.

Parts of the British Columbia interior picked up more than 30 cm.

Early snow along BC South Coast

The first Arctic front of the season has moved across British Columbia bringing a blast of cold air, strong winds and the first snowfall to the south coast including most of Vancouver Island.

Victoria received 7 cm of snow which was the earliest appearance since 1991.

Significant snow fell in the BC interior with 19 cm in Kelowna and 34 cm in Cranbrook.

The same storm system also has Southern Alberta digging out with Calgary getting 14 cm and Lethbridge picking up a whopping 39 cm of snow.

The year without winter – on Canada’s West Coast

 

Cherry blossoms in Victoria, BC, 28 February 2015 (Twitter)

Cherry blossoms in Victoria, BC, 28 February 2015 (Twitter)

The rest of Canada is resenting the coast of British Columbia this winter.

Why?  It’s simple really.  While most of Canada has been much colder and snowier than usual, the West Coast has been basking in spring-like temperatures all winter long.

Both Vancouver and Victoria have been well above normal with average daytime highs last month reaching 11 C and overnight lows which seldom dropped below freezing.

One noticeable example of the warmth is the sprouting of cherry blossoms about three weeks earlier than usual.

A large ridge of high pressure along the West Coast has kept Arctic air well to the east of British Columbia for weeks.

 

Heavy snow falls along B.C. south coast

Courtesy The Weather Network

Courtesy The Weather Network

The normally balmy south coast of British Columbia has experienced a taste of wintry weather.

Between 20-50 cm of snow piled up in some areas through Monday, snarling travel plans and cutting power to thousands of homes and businesses.

The east coast of Vancouver Island, Greater Victoria and the Fraser Valley were hit the hardest and were under a snowfall warning for much of yesterday.

Heatwave subsides in Australia

Cooling off at the Australian Open in Melbourne, 14 Jan 2014 (Getty Images)

Cooling off at the Australian Open in Melbourne, 14 Jan 2014 (Getty Images)

An extremely hot air mass which enveloped much of southern Australia this week has finally subsided after temperatures climbed into the mid-40s Celsius.

Heat records were shattered and both players and spectators of the Australian Open Tennis Tournament in Melbourne tried to cool off when the thermometer climbed above 40 C.

The normal January high in Melbourne – at the height of summer Down Under – is in the high 20s C.

The heatwave led to power blackouts to conserve energy and more than 100 bushfires in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales.