A review of the weather in the Chemainus Valley during 2019 and a comparison with 1995 shows some interesting trends, according to Chemainus weather expert Chris Carss.
Following is his detailed assessment first of the weather patterns that emerged in 2019:
“The past year started off with slightly above normal temperatures in January that turned sharply below normal in February with the unexpected collapse of an early season El Nino ocean current. The coldest temperature of the year usually falls in December or January, but last year the lowest of -6 C was recorded on Feb. 10, just as the first pre-spring crocus flowers were beginning to bloom. They survived the assault but were buried under snow for several days before reappearing.
“Temperatures normalized again in March and April, then turned sharply warmer in May and June with the arrival of an early summer as has been the pattern for the past half decade. The weather before the summer solstice in late June was decidedly warmer than the weather that followed immediately after for the last 10 days of the month. The solstice is strictly an astronomical event that has no legal or meteorological status, and those who mistakenly see the solstice as anything more than the longest day of the year are often surprised when the real summer doesn’t arrive on the exact day and time indicated on many calendars.
“By Canada Day last July 1, the summer had recovered most of the warmth it lost right after the local ‘Summer Kickoff’ that accompanied the solstice except that the highest temperature for the summer and the entire year, exactly 30 C, had already occurred back on June 12 when the calendar was still saying ‘spring’. The warmer than normal temperatures continued until September when cooler weather brought back near-normal temperatures, then slightly below normal values for October.
“The last two months of the year saw the mercury climb back to slightly above normal temperatures, just mild enough to prevent anything more than rain and just a few wet flurries from affecting our weather. It seems the above normal and below normal temperatures during the year pretty well balanced out to an overall mean of 11 C, which was right on normal for the one-year period.”
Looking back at 1995, Carss found the temperature anomalies followed a slightly different pattern but produced the same net result.
”Above normal temperatures occurred in February, definitely an early spring month that year as it was many other years during the 1990s and 2000s, and quite in contrast to the more wintry Februaries that returned during the 2010s. March and April were near normal, then summer arrived early that year in mid-May followed by a summer of above normal temperatures that were quite unusual then, but maybe a precursor to the long early starting summers we get now. The fall months bounced around either side of normal before settling down to right on normal in December. The mean temperature for 1995 came out to 11.5 C, about half a degree warmer than 2019, with the mild spring-like February being the deciding factor and the main difference between that year and 2019.”
Overall, Carss noted 2019 had much less rain than 1995, with a total accumulated amount of 934.3 mm, which was well below the normal of 1,318.4 mm. and even further below the 1995 total of 1,593.1 mm.
“January produced the most monthly rainfall for 2019 with a total accumulated amount of 275.5 mm. That month also saw the greatest one-day rainfall of 76.8 mm on the 3rd. 2019 also saw more snow than usual, although it nearly all fell during the first three months, with nothing more than some trace amounts in low elevation areas of the Chemainus Valley where most of its residents live. The total accumulated snowfall for the year was 82.6 cm, nearly 20 cm more than normal. February served up the most snowfall for a single month, 76.4 cm. The greatest one-day snowfall of 25.4 cm also fell that month on the 10th.”
Meanwhile, at Foster Point Road on Thetis Island where Keith Rush keeps weather statistics, there was a total of 795.2 mm of rain recorded in 2019. That was the lowest yearly total since 2013 when rainfall of 610 mm occurred.
The year-end total on Thetis for 2018 was 1,135.2 mm. The 11-year average year-end total there is 996.7 mm.