For those who are already looking forward to the arrival of spring, the good news is that our transition from winter to spring is getting underway, albeit with a few snowy interruptions, and our first prevernal (pre-spring) flowers are now in bloom.
In my own backyard, buttercup-like acinolytes have been in bloom since late January, and the first crocus blossoms appear ready to open any day now. I thought for awhile I had lost my crocus flowers to marauding rabbits which appear to have joined the deer as permanent and reproductively fertile residents of the Chemainus Valley in recent times. However, the attack came early enough in the year to allow the crocuses to produce a second bloom, which I now have under protective wire netting.
Additional good news for lovers of spring-like weather is the La Nina ocean current that gave us our second consecutive early winter and white Christmas late last year is expected to fade out over the next few months in time for summer. Indeed, it seems that this cool ocean current is already loosening, but not altogether losing, its grip on Vancouver Island, maybe more so than elsewhere in Canada.
The Accuweather outlook for this region, which draws heavily on ocean current and weather predictions put out by the American Climate Prediction Center, is calling for this week’s winter boomerang to be replaced by a return to more seasonably changeable weather with near normal temperatures, and hopefully no more major storms other than the rainy variety.
Perhaps the best thing I can say about 2018 so far is it’s shaping up to be a far less challenging year than 2017.
Last year, we had an unusually long and stormy winter with copious amounts of rain and snow that delayed the beginning of the growing season by at least a month. February of last year saw nothing of the transition from winter to spring that is customary after Groundhog Day. We had to wait until March for that.
Then by last summer, the problem became the exact opposite, a persistent drought that led to one of the worst forest fire seasons ever seen in British Columbia. Fortunately, it is extremely rare to see these two extreme and opposite kinds of weather events in the same year.
The lack of any unusual ocean currents this year indicates far more normal weather and fire conditions this year. The only question that hangs over our heads is whether or not climate change will cause these extreme events to become more common in the years and decades to come.
Chris Carss is a Chemainus resident and a longtime weather observer/recorder.