February set some new records

It’s been a record setting February in terms of warm temperatures.

It’s been a record setting February in terms of warm temperatures.

Lisa Coldwells, Environment Canada warning preparedness meteorologist, noted that the weather has been rather remarkable, with seven high temperature records broken this month.

She said it is common to have one record broken, but seven is a much rarer occurrence. Many of those were lumped together.

“You had five in a row, from the 10th of February to the 14th,” Coldwells said. “Those are all-time records.”

In fact, she noted that those particular days, the records go all the way back to 1901 in the Cranbrook area.

The records didn’t get to the all-time max for February, which is 13.9 degrees celsius.

“The warmest temperature we’ve had so far this month is 10.7,” she said. “So we’re not extreme, but on those specific days the records were broken.”

Feb. 14 was the day that reached 10.7 degrees.

“In fact we had multiple records broken across the entire southern portion of the province that day, from Abbotsford through to Kelowna, all the way to Cranbrook,” she said.

The source of the peculiar weather is a broad-scale upper atmospheric ridge just sitting over the province.

“In sort of normal years weather rotates around, so we get a system that comes through, then some arctic air, then another system — so you get a constant movement in the weather,” she said. “This blocking upper ridge has been extremely persistent and it’s been sitting there really over a good part of the month.”

She noted that at the beginning of the month there was a Pineapple Express that brought precipitation to the Lower Mainland and warm air here. That warm air still  hasn’t been flushed out. She said that won’t happen until that upper ridge is moved out of place.

“The longer range models show that the ridge does stay put until about the middle of next week —now we’re talking about the 25th of February — and temperatures will remain on the warm side with daytime highs of around 3 – 5 degrees,” she said. “There’s a bit of a blip that happens as the ridge kind of shifts a bit to the west and that allows colder arctic air to move in from  Alberta.”

That means temperatures will cool down a bit over the weekend, but should stay sunny. Then the ridge will shift back and by the middle of next week the warm pocket will have returned.

She said in the longer range forecast, it looks as though the ridge will break down and return the westerly flow.

“That means systems from the Pacific can start moving in again and start skipping across the mountains bringing a more typical weather where you have a system coming in and then moving out,” she said.

The weather shouldn’t drop down too much in that forecast, and the arctic air is stuck over Eastern Canada, but it will be a return to more typical conditions she said.

Winter could still make it’s way back.

“It’s only February,” she said. “There is a deep, deep pool of arctic air over Eastern Canada and all we need is a shift in that pattern and it can decide to move back again into Southern B.C.”


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