Snowfall returning to average levels

After warmer winter in 2014/15, meteorologist says snowfall levels are returning to normal averages.

Though it may seem like a snowier winter than last year, a meteorologist with Environment Canada says that things are returning to average after a milder winter last year.

Environment Canada issued a snowfall warning for the East Kootenay on Thursday and forecasted between 10 to 15 centimetres of the white stuff.

“Last January and February were really mild and it has been colder this year in the latter part of November and December to early January, but it’s kind of been up and down since the beginning of November,” said meteorologist Doug Lindquist.

The most recent system is a collision of cooler arctic air coming from Alberta against warmer air coming up from the south, added Linquist.

“What I can say about the precipitation is that it’s been a setup where systems have been moving up from the south and because it has been cooler and the arctic air is just north of us, it’s been that collision of arctic air that’s on the Alberta side and a bit further up the trench and this milder air from the south that’s given us a lot of snow, particularly recently in the last few weeks.”

While the November total snowfall was down—17 centimetres this year as compared to 32 centimetres in 2014—the December snowfall is up from 19 to 33 centimetres.

January 2015 had 22 centimetres of snowfall, while Cranbrook currently has just under six centimetres of snow seven days into the month.

“In the last 90 days, normally Cranbrook gets about 80 mm of precipitation, this year you have about 120 [mm],” said Linquist. “We were kind of on track for average until about the middle of November, then there was a big jump and it kind of held off until early December, and then steadily uphill since then.”

Temperatures are expected to fluctuate over the next week or so, as the snow will dissipate into a mix of sun and cloud.

“By [Friday], we’ll be creeping into arctic air so we’ll still have a 30 per cent chance of flurries yet tomorrow and then sunny for Saturday and Sunday, some sun coming in with the colder air as the arctic air tries to seep in from the north and from Alberta,” said Lindquist.

“It’s a much drier period, we don’t have much snow forecast all the way through till Wednesday. I noticed that if one went further out to the latter part of next week, we might be getting into milder air, if that pans out to be true, and if it warms up to zero, we may start to get some melting.”

Mainroad Contracting provided an update on operations on Thursday, noting it was aware of the pending snowfall and warned drivers to expect slippery and slushy set ions as temperatures are expected to drop on Thursday evening, especially in the Elk Valley and Rocky Mountain Trench.

Plowing and sanding is in progress, however, adopt winter driving conditions and slow down on East Kootenay highways.