Unexpected La Nina brings a revised winter weather forecast for Chemainus region

Unexpected La Nina brings a revised winter weather forecast for Chemainus region

The weakness of it and other factors mean a repeat of last year is unlikely

Four weeks ago in this space, I passed on some information from oceanographers that last winter’s La Nina event was not likely returning for the coming winter and that we should expect more normal weather conditions heading into 2018. Well, I have some good news and some bad news for those who prefer a moderate winter to anything too severe like we had around the beginning of this year.

The bad news for winter-phobes like myself is that a new and unexpected La Nina has formed in the equatorial regions of the Pacific Ocean that has brought a drop in water temperatures in that very large body of water just off our coast. This may explain the unusually wintery weather we had near the beginning of this month on Vancouver Island.

The seasonal outlook has accordingly been revised to indicate somewhat below normal temperatures and somewhat above normal precipitation for the next few months. That could well mean more snow than usual for the second winter in a row. Snow-skiers rejoice!

The good news for non-winter enthusiasts is that this season’s La Nina is relatively weak. Also, the prevailing ocean temperatures and currents are not the only factors that affect our winters and there are other forces at work that could moderate the outcome.

It is too early to say for sure exactly how how this winter will play out, but statistical probabilities indicate the chances of a repeat of the epic 2016-17 winter snowfalls are very small. Those winter storms were the product of a ‘perfect storm’ (so to speak) of factors and influences that are unlikely to repeat in exactly the same way this time around.

Those relentless snowfalls constituted a ‘century event’ of the type that normally occurs only once or twice in 100 years. All the same, though, we should be prepared for another winter that will likely bring somewhat more snowfalls and below freezing temperatures than normal along the otherwise mild west coast of Canada.

As already noted, November got off to an unusually cold start this year with temperatures well below normal and sometimes below freezing during the period of the 2nd to the 7th inclusive. Although the accumulation of rain and snow was not all that great, it was one of the earliest winter events seen on Vancouver Island in recent history.

The earliestmeasurable snowfall in the Chemainus area during the past near-century for which official weather records are available was in late October of 1991, a month that is usually considered more fall rather than winter. However, if any kind of a La Nina was occurring at that time, is was very short lived. By the time the normal ‘winter’ months arrived, the temperature regime had climbed to well above average, and not a single snowflake was observed after October.

Another much more recent snowy winter that was definitely a La Nina event arrived in mid-December 2007 and continued until mid-March 2008. The Chemainus Valley area got off fairly lightly that winter because of our proximity to the moderating effects of the nearby Georgia Strait/Salish Sea, but some nearby communities further inland like the Glenora heights area near Duncan had snow on the ground for that entire three-month period.

So for now, I’m keeping a fairly optimistic spin on our local winter outlook, even if some other Island localities at higher elevations end up with a tougher road to hoe. Now that the Courier is a weekly paper, I can keep an eye on how the coming winter season continues to develop and issue updates as necessary.

Chris Carss is a Chemainus resident and a long-time weather observer/recorder.

Just Posted

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

CVRD to increase enforcement after audits reveal that curb-side recycling contamination in the district is well above acceptable limits. (File photo)
CVRD reports contamination in recyclables well above acceptable levels

Increased enforcement planned starting this summer

Municipality of North Cowichan.
Council acknowledges National Indigenous Peoples Day

Recommendations received for prioritization of the updated Climate Action and Energy Plan

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

North Cowichan’s committee of the whole have rejected staff’s recommendation to limit the use of fireworks to Halloween. (File photo)
North Cowichan rejects limiting fireworks to Halloween

Municipality decides staff recommendation would be unpopular

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto and IOC President Thomas Bach, on a screen, speak during a five=party online meeting at Harumi Island Triton Square Tower Y in Tokyo Monday, June 21, 2021. The Tokyo Olympics will allow some local fans to attend when the games open in just over a month, Tokyo organizing committee officials and the IOC said on Monday. (Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Pool Photo via AP)
Tokyo Olympics to allow Japanese fans only, with strict limits

Organizers set a limit of 50% capacity — up to a maximum of 10,000 fans

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Most Read