Residents of Metro Vancouver seemed to breathe a collective sigh of relief as temperatures warmed across the region after a near-record deep freeze in late December.
And while meteorologists are warning that winter is not over, the worst is probably behind us.
Locals took to social media this week to describe what they call a “crazy spring” in the Lower Mainland: a time after the first winter cold snap, when temperatures warm up dramatically and people think that the coldest part of the season is over. This is exactly where the “insane” part comes in. Instead of continuing on the warming pattern – or even staying consistently warm – temperatures are falling again. The “spring of fools” is then followed by a second winter and yet another “spring of deception”. A third winter also follows this season.
Although these extra seasons were made in jest, Environment Canada meteorologist Doug Lundquist said Vancouver is great during a telephone interview that they are not entirely false.
“That’s how BC works. We’re bimodal…meaning we have two different regimes,” he explained. “In British Columbia, that means we’re either a little above average, and for a long time in the winter, that’s our main mode. We’re a little above average, and for a long period.
“Mode number two is arctic air, which is well below average and usually doesn’t last that long.”
Lundquist notes that Metro Vancouver typically experiences only one truly cold winter period, and there are typically only one to three arctic atmospheric events per year. Going forward, the region may have another cold weather event in February or March; he doesn’t see any extreme cold moving into the region in the 10-day forecast.
But arctic air moving into the Lower Mainland in February or March won’t be as cold as the temperatures the region experienced in December, he pointed out. “It’s impossible.”
Since arctic air moved into the region near the winter solstice, there were not enough daylight hours to allow for significant warming. On the other hand, daylight hours will increase in the coming months, which means that temperatures will not drop as low.
Lundquist compares December’s cold weather event to the record-breaking heat the province experienced in June. The heat dome coincided with the spring solstice, meaning temperatures may have risen during the longest days of the year.
For now, the meteorologist is encouraging residents of Metro Vancouver to take advantage of the respite from the weather, even if it’s only for a week or two.
As he pointed out: winter is not over yet.