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Weekend snow threat for B.C.'s South Coast as freezing levels sink

Wednesday, January 20th 2021, 2:00 pm - After an extended stretch of dry weather in B.C., forecasters are keeping a close eye on the potential for a frontal system to bring snow to the South Coast on the weekend.

Apart from some light showers for some areas Tuesday night, for the most part B.C. has been experiencing a dry week, and can expect that to continue through to the doorstep of the weekend. However, the weekend itself is looking very different: Freezing levels will be taking a nosedive this week, possibly dropping to near sea level – 300 metres by Sunday. This could bring a decent amount of snow to the South Coast Sunday, but because we're several days out still, confidence is still low in the exact track and any snowfall totals. For a closer look, read below.


WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS

  • Fairly quiet pattern this week in B.C.
  • Freezing levels plummet, will be near sea level by Sunday
  • Possibility of significant snowfall for South Coast on Sunday

WEDNESDAY TO FRIDAY: QUIET PATTERN LINGERS AS FREEZING LEVELS DROP

The coast is being protected by a ridge of high pressure this week, leading to a drying out of an active onshore flow. Precipitation has dropped week-to-week significantly. Last week there was 50-100 mm for the South Coast, but this week, nearly no rainfall.

“We have cold air plunging south from the Bering Sea. The response in the atmosphere is to drive a subtropical flow to the north, but what does this mean for the South Coast of B.C.?" Says Weather Network meteorologist Tyler Hamilton.

BCWednesday

Earlier model runs featured some chance of high-elevation snow Thursday, courtesy of a weak low-pressure system developing southwest of Tofino, but at this time, it looks to remain too far south to have any high-elevation snow impacts.

But freezing levels will still be falling through the week, dropping down to 400 metres by Saturday and 300 metres, close to sea level, on Sunday. This will set the stage for possible significant snowfall for the South Coast for Sunday.

LOOK AHEAD: POTENTIAL FOR SUNDAY SNOW ON SOUTH COAST

On Saturday night, the frontal system will push onto the inland sections of the northern coast, bringing the potential snow to the region, possibly mixed with rain.

By Sunday morning, the snow will creep its way down into Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. At this time, there is low confidence in the totals expected.

FREEZENW (1)

However, because it is several days out, there is still uncertainty regarding the exact storm track and impacts.

"This is still a long way out, so it is too early to have confidence in the exact storm track and impacts, but temperatures could be cold enough for wet snow all the way to sea level and significant accumulations in more densely populated areas. Snow is also expected across the Interior," says Weather Network meteorologist Dr. Doug Gillham.

Check back as we continue to monitor the forecast.

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