Don’t put the shovel away just yet, La Niña isn’t quite finished with the North Coast.
From December until early March, it has been an unusual winter. Prince Rupert has a long period of weather data dating back to 1908 — which made Feb. 28 special when 16cm of snow fell breaking the previous record of 12cm on the same day in 1908. Then another 15cm of snow fell on March 5, and Environment Canada is forecasting 10cm of snow for Saturday.
Warning preparedness meteorologist Matt MacDonald broke down the data on how this winter compares to the average Prince Rupert winter. From December to February the average temperature was 0.6 C, whereas the normal temperature is usually 2.6 C.
“There are two parts as to why it played out that way,” MacDonald said. “A weak La Niña was with us through the winter bringing colder than normal temperatures in the Pacific Ocean along the equator. That’s in contrast to last winter where we had a record breaking strong El Niño.”
Blame the cold ocean temperatures brought on by La Niña – Prince Rupert has been a full 2 C colder than normal, which is why snow is falling instead of rain. However, this winter has been dry and the piles of snow could have been a lot worse.
Precipitation has only been 35 per cent of what normally falls from the sky. The total precipitation this winter has been approximately 259 mm compared to what the city normally gets this time of year — a sloppy 756 mm of rain (rarely snow).
The end of shovelling and brushing is near — but not before a few more flurries, MacDonald explained. The forecast is sunny weather on Thursday and Friday followed by a cold arctic air mass pushing out from the interior of the province bringing highs of 1 C and overnight lows of -7 C.
With the cold air in place and a storm moving onshore on Saturday, there will be another onslaught of snow that will change to rain as the marine air mass flushes out the arctic air. There could be another chance of snow from Sunday night to Monday.
There will be a couple days of normal temperatures on March 18-19, but Environment Canada is forecasting this month to be colder than normal.
“It’s not quite spring just yet. But beyond that, La Niña has fizzled out and we’re back to neutral conditions with ocean temperatures back in the normal,” he said. “We’re forecasting near normal spring.”
If the forecast is right, March is indeed in like a lion, out like a lamb.