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British Columbia facing a frigid February


Dayna Vettese
Meteorologist

Wednesday, February 5, 2014, 2:24 PM -

It’s been an active winter across the country whether you've experienced ice storms, wild temperature swings, avalanches, fog-mageddon or blizzards. British Columbia has had its fair share of changeable weather this winter. 

December temperatures averaged out to below normal for portions of the south coast of British Columbia and northern sections. In Vancouver, the average daytime high in December is about 6.3°C and December 2013 averaged out to be 4.9°C; just over 1°C below normal. 

January on average was the same number of degrees below normal as December. That being said, the December cold was likely more noticeable as we had more consecutive below normal days in Vancouver in December than in January. We also had quite a few more above normal days in Vancouver in January than in December. 

December temperature anomalies:

December temperature anomalies from 1981-2010 climate normals. Image: NOAA\ESRL

December temperature anomalies from 1981-2010 climate normals. Image: NOAA\ESRL

January temperature anomalies:

January temperature anomalies from 1981-2010 climate normals. Image: NOAA/ESRL

January temperature anomalies from 1981-2010 climate normals. Image: NOAA/ESRL

Precipitation-wise, it really depended on where you were in British Columbia whether or not you had a wet December or January. 

The south coast had a very dry December followed by a somewhat dry January. On average, December at Vancouver airport records roughly 162 mm of precipitation (rain and snow combined). This December, the airport only picked up about 77 mm; about half the normal amount. January was a bit wetter in Vancouver recording about 142 mm of precipitation with the normal amount being about 168 mm (80% of normal). 

If you look at central and northern coastal sections of B.C., though, December was very wet. Prince Rupert picked up 370 mm of precipitation in December with the climate normal being about 294 mm. 

January was on the drier side with 106 mm recorded compared to the normal 276 mm. January did end off on a foggy note for many southern B.C. residents. 

December precipitation anomalies:

December precipitation anomalies from 1981-2010 climate normals, Image: NOAA/ESRL)

December precipitation anomalies from 1981-2010 climate normals, Image: NOAA/ESRL)

January precipitation anomalies:

January precipitation anomalies from 1981-2010 climate normals. Image: NOAA/ESRL

January precipitation anomalies from 1981-2010 climate normals. Image: NOAA/ESRL

NEXT PAGE: How long will this cold weather last?

The pattern has been changing and evolving in a rapid manner across Canada with January having a pattern conducive to low pressure systems moving north into the northern B.C. and Yukon region then sliding south across the Prairies, circumventing the southern regions of the province. 

As February progresses, we’re getting into a pattern for the next couple of weeks conducive to cold air outbreaks across British Columbia. Tuesday morning, several unofficial cold records were broken across the province. Vancouver airport reached a low of -5°C this morning with a wind chill feeling like -11. 

Though it’s not often we get such cold wind chills along the south coast of B.C., we have seen temperatures colder than this before. The coldest wind chill ever recorded at Vancouver airport was -28 on December 16, 1964. The day time high has been hovering close to the zero mark on Tuesday as well making it coldest day since about December 10, 2013. 

Arctic Outflow Warnings were issued for certain coastal areas of B.C. due to gusty outflow winds and wind chills close to -20 to -25.

B.C. Wind Chills:

This pattern is also favourable for a type of jetstream that will steer low pressure systems toward the coast. 

Several models are indicating below normal temperatures will stick around in B.C. until the beginning of next week where these coastal systems will help to bring in some milder air. 

This pattern will be decent amount of precipitation to B.C. with mountain snow but even some coastal snow.     

Several forecast models are indicating the potential for some snow along the south coast for this weekend. The models are hinting at a low pressure system to makes its way onto the B.C. coast while temperatures will begin cold enough at first to see some snowfall accumulation in the metro area. 

Now, this is quite a few days out so nothing is set in stone but it is certainly something to keep an eye on as the weekend draws near. 

B.C. Snow:

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